Bahrain’s Crown Prince has praised the annual report from the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) as an “objective and comprehensive” document that furthers efforts to develop a culture of human rights.

The Crown Prince was speaking at an event during which he was formally presented with the NIHR’s report.

The document, which is available in full on the NIHR’s website sets out in great detail all the major aspects of human rights and reviews the record of the Bahraini authorities in implementing its human rights obligations.

The NIHR was formally established by royal decree in 2009 as a body that would “exercise its functions with complete freedom, impartiality, and independence”; with the aims of raising human rights awareness and developing “an integrated national strategy for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Kingdom”, as well as providing assistance in implementing human rights legislation.

Below are many of the key recommendations made by the NIHR. In many cases they relate to measures that are already being implemented but require greater urgency and many of the measures suggested below are in line with recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry:

Preventing torture

“Setting a date for the visit by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.”

“Urging the Government to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).”

“Providing periodic reports to the Committee against Torture established under the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on the specified deadlines.”

Police arrest & detention procedures

“Reducing recourse to solitary confinement punishment as disciplinary sanction.”

“Urging the legislative authority to expedite the enactment of an integrated legislation for reform, rehabilitation, and custody centers in accordance with international standards.”

“Acceding to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.”

“Urging the legislative authority to expedite the issuance of the necessary amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code on reducing the duration of custody and granting the accused the right to effective grievance against it.”

“The provision of the necessary audio and video recording equipment and security cameras in all police departments and its affiliated centers.”

“Immediate cessation of the individual actions of law enforcement apparatuses associated with arrest and search procedures that constitute human rights violations.”

“Immediate cessation of illegal or unjustified actions at security checkpoints and enabling local residents to have access to their homes.”

Right to a Fair Trial

“Making the necessary legislative amendments to ensure the accused person’s right to counsel. This should include misdemeanors as well as felonies, starting from the stage of collecting evidence, until pre-trial investigation, through the trial stage and beyond.”

“Enabling detainees to attend the funerals or mourning ceremonies of any of his ascendants, descendants, spouse, or his relatives to the second degree.”

“Providing courts with qualified personnel in line with the progressively increasing number of cases, and developing specialized qualification programs to increase the efficiency of the judicial authority personnel.”

Human rights training

“Dedicating further attention to intensive and effective training for judges and public prosecutors on issues related to human rights, particularly fair trial guarantees.”

“Comprehensive extended training programs for law enforcement officers using curriculum that includes teaching all components of human rights. The training should include effective interrogation techniques and the proper approach to obtain information without resorting to coercive means.”

“Conducting effective and intensive training and awareness programs for public prosecution and employees of the executive apparatus of the public prosecution in order to promote the culture of human rights”

Compensation

“The need for the Government to develop clear and transparent criteria and schedule for prompt disbursement of compensation to those who are proven to have sustained injury”

Role of Special Investigations Unit

“The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in the Public Prosecution should be the body entrusted with investigation into allegations of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and should have full independence.”

Right to Citizenship

“Urging the legislative authority to pass a new citizenship law to be commensurate with the political, economic, and social conditions of the Bahraini community.”

“Urging the legislative authority to include in the new citizenship law clear and specific controls and legal standards in the cases where the Bahraini citizenship is granted by naturalization.”

“Avoiding the forfeiture of Bahraini citizenship, except in specific and exceptional situations prescribed by the law. Forfeiture should be based on final court judgments and any person whose nationality has been forfeited should not be declared as stateless.”

“Reinstating citizenship to those who were deprived of it (31 citizens), under Article 11 of the Bahraini Citizenship Act of 1963, as amended, which authorizes the King to reinstate the Bahraini citizenship to those who have lost it.”

Freedom of Expression

“Expediting the issuance of an integrated law on the press, printing, publishing and audio-visual, printed and electronic media, in line with the international human rights instruments.”

“Urging the Supreme Authority for Information and Communication to expedite the preparation of a draft national plan for information and communication, which is based on promotion of common national values and adopting a fair, balanced and professional media policy.”

“Allowing all licensed political societies of various directions greater use of television and radio transmission and printed media, in line with the recommendations of the BICI report.”

“Urging the Government to limit the censorship and restrictions on the media outlets, including removing the censorship imposed on the political societies in releasing their own publications.”

Right to Peaceful Assembly

“Inviting the legislative authority to pass a new law on peaceful assembly that guarantees the freedom to enjoy this right in the context of the relevant international human rights instruments.”

“Lifting the prohibition of demonstrations, marches, rallies or sit-ins in the city of Manama.”

“The need for law enforcement agencies to protect all marches, sit-ins and rallies, especially if such right is not accompanied by any manifestation of violence or breach of security and public safety.”

“Providing adequate training programs for law enforcement apparatuses, particularly those entrusted with the protection of peaceful gatherings, including training on the gradual use of means of dispersing gatherings if they are contrary to the law, how to manage the crowds and participants in those gatherings.”

“Implementing a system to record and monitor the ammunition used for dispersing gatherings, and a system for communication records in order to monitor operation orders and those responsible for these operations and the executing officers.”

“Urging civil society organizations to deepen the understanding of the right to peaceful assembly, raise the awareness of the participants and organizers of peaceful gatherings about the legal aspects and violations that might be committed by the participants and their implications, and to assume an active role in promoting awareness of the importance of this right, its exercise and its envisaged objectives in a peaceful context as a civilized form of democratic practice, announcing the end of the assembly formally, and inviting the participants to disperse.”

“Law enforcement apparatuses need to protect and facilitate the access of journalists and observers to the peaceful gatherings locations in order to cover the events and monitor the events of these gatherings.”

Right to Organize

“Expediently approving a draft law on civil organizations and institutions, taking into account the appropriate developments in human rights.”

“Canceling Resolution No. 31 of 2013 adding a new article, i.e. Article 3 bis, to the Resolution No. 4 of 2005 on the rules of political associations’ communication with foreign political parties or associations.”

Women’s Rights

“Urging the legislative authority to pass a law aimed at granting Bahraini women equal right with men in relation to granting citizenship to their children according to specific controls in line with the international commitments of the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

“Taking serious and conciliatory steps for the purpose of expediting the referral of the Jaafari part (Section II) of the draft family law to the legislative authority.”

“Expanding the establishment of equal opportunity units in ministries, government agencies, and private sector institutions.”

Rights of the child

“Urging the public prosecution not to resort to measures that restrict the freedom of the children, except within the most minimum range and as a measure of last resort.”

Combating Trafficking in Persons

“Urging the legislative authority to make amendments to Law No. 1 of 2008 on Combating Trafficking in Persons to ensure its comprehensiveness and consistency with the relevant international instruments.”

“Creating suitable centers to accommodate all victims of trafficking in persons, including victims of forced labor.”

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