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Bahrain panel quizzes 6,000 over unrest

Manama, October 16, 2011

Nearly 6,000 witnesses and alleged victims have been interviewed by The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), an independent body set up to probe the recent unrest in the kingdom.

BICI is now in the final stages of drafting its report which will be published by the end of the month.

It was set up by His Majesty King Hamad in June with the mandate of uncovering alleged human rights violations.

"The BICI is wrapping up its investigation of human rights violations in Bahrain since February and March 2011," a commission spokeswoman said.

She revealed BICI investigators interviewed thousands of affected people from all sectors of society during the anti-government protests.

"To date, the commission has interviewed more than 5,700 people, including detainees, journalists, medical staff, private and public sectors employees, police personnel, students and teachers," she said.

The spokeswoman said the commission had also taken account of around 8,800 complaints.

Its team registered complaints through interviews, phone calls and e-mails.

"The commission is developing the report as we speak and aims to present this to the King on October 30," said the spokeswoman. "The report will be bilingual, featuring both in Arabic and English versions and we will have it available online at the BICI website."

The BICI 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.

Other senior members of the commission include 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 specialist Dr Badria Al Awadhi.

The spokeswoman said Prof Bassiouni would submit the report to the King.

Commission officials earlier said people found guilty of human rights violations would be named in the report, which would contain photographs and other evidence to ensure transparency. Prof Bassiouni also stated that for safety and privacy victims would be referred to by number, rather than by name, to protect them.

Last month Ismail Hazem, an international engineering expert working with the BICI, completed his investigation into alleged demolition and damaging of mosques and religious buildings in February and March.

He visited the sites of 30 mosques in various locations, including Nuwaidrat, Hamad Town and Sitra.

The BICI investigative team helped secure the release of 151 prisoners in August, including 137 detainees charged with misdemeanour.

Narrative

It has been granted full access to places and people and asked to respect the identities of those seeking confidentiality.

The commission has been asked to provide a complete narrative of the events, describe any acts of violence that occurred as well as the actors involved.

It has investigated instances of alleged police brutality and alleged violence by protesters or demonstrators against the police.

The commission has also been asked to explore the circumstances and appropriateness of arrests and detentions and examine allegations of disappearances and torture.

It is funded by the Royal Court, but was established on the condition that its funding will in no way influence its investigative process or the conclusions of its report. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Probe | unrest | Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry | BICI |

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