Rights groups to present unrest evidence
Manama, July 21, 2011
Human rights groups in Bahrain are gearing up to present evidence to an independent commission set up to probe unrest since February.
Members of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) and the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) have already collected evidence of alleged wrongdoing and hope to share the information with investigators.
Members of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, the official name of the probe panel, are due to arrive by next week - including at least six non-Bahraini Arabic speakers.
The Commission has already called a Press conference for Sunday at Bahrain National Museum, Manama, at 6.30pm to discuss its mandate and the investigation team's role.
It is understood that a Commission website (bici.org.bh) will be launched on the same day, while a three-hour, closed-door forum is also scheduled for Sunday from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
Details about the forum were unavailable yesterday, but the Press conference invitation said the forum was not open to the media.
BHRWS members say they will attend the Press conference.
The organisation's secretary-general, Faisal Fulad, said it planned to highlight cases of foreign workers and police being attacked by protesters, as well as people being denied treatment at Salmaniya Medical Complex during its occupation by protesters, among other things.
He added a Bahrain Coalition for Justice, which was set up by the BHRWS, had compiled a dossier of evidence to be submitted to investigators.
"There have been mistakes and abuses from both sides and it is important for a transparent investigation by the Commission to address the issues," added Fulad.
The Commission is headed by Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, who left his post as chairman of a United Nation's fact-finding team in Libya to take up the job.
Four other senior members of the Commission are former International Criminal Court president Judge Phillipe Kirsch, former UN special rapporteur on human rights Sir Nigel Rodley, international legal expert Dr Mahnoush Arsanjani and Sharia (Islamic law) specialist Dr Badria Al Awadhi.
"We welcome the initiative of the Bahrain government to form this Commission to investigate all violations," said BHRS former secretary-general Abdulla Al Deerazi.
"Our team consisting of volunteers and members have recorded several violations against citizens that we are ready to share with members of the Commission."
However, the National Institution for Human Rights said it would only share its views if approached by the Commission.
"We have not been contacted by officials from the Commission and will share information only if they ask us for our assistance," said secretary-general Dr Ahmed Abdulla Farhan.
"This is an independent investigation where the members decide who they communicate with and decide their operation."
The independent inquiry was formed on June 29 under Royal Decree 28 of 2011 and will present recommendations once its work has concluded, which could include prosecution.
It has been set a deadline of October 30 to present its findings.
Specifically, the Commission has been asked to provide a complete narrative of what happened, describe any acts of violence that occurred and the actors involved.
The Commission stated it would also investigate allegations of police brutality and alleged violence by protesters against police.
It will also explore the circumstances and appropriateness of arrests and detention, while examining allegations of disappearances and torture.
The independent commission has been granted full access to places and people and has been asked to respect the identities of those seeking confidentiality. – TradeArabia News Service