Bahrain mulls deposit for holding rallies
Manama, May 8, 2013
Organisers of public demonstrations in Bahrain could soon have to pay deposits of up to BD20,000 ($52,750) for permission to stage them in an attempt to prevent them from turning violent, a report said.
MPS yesterday unanimously approved controversial changes to the gatherings, rallies and demonstrations law, despite concerns they could breach the constitution, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
They want organisers to pay the Interior Ministry deposits ranging from BD1 to BD20,000, which would be refunded if they pass without acts of vandalism or sabotage.
The amendments will be now studied by the Cabinet before being sent to the National Assembly.
Parliament legal commission head Dr Saleh Al Gateeth had earlier argued the amendments were "unconstitutional" since they would rob people of their right to freedom of expression.
"The maximum amount proposed suggests a ban since it is very difficult to arrange such deposit and many would hesitate to make the payment knowing they would lose it," he said.
"It is clear that the amendment seeks a ban on the constitutional right of freedom of expression."
He was backed up by parliament second vice-chairman Shaikh Adel Al Ma'awada, who suggested the proposal could end up spurning more illegal gatherings.
"I understand that those events are being misused most of the time, but that's not the right way to address the issue," he said.
However, Interior Ministry assistant under-secretary for legal affairs Brigadier Mohammed Buhamood said the changes would help it better organise rallies.
Dr Jamal Saleh, who came up with the proposal, said the police would determine the size of the deposit, according to the location and estimated participants.
"Why think of the maximum when it could be BD1 or BD50 and not BD20,000. We suggested that considering the damages and harm that may happen in the case of those events being held at vital locations or have a lot of participants,” he said.
"It is not a fee and is just a deposit to ensure things are carried out peacefully. If they don't, then it could be taken as a part of the fines that will be determined through courts."
MP Sawsan Taqawi said the main aim of the amendments was to stop people from misusing protests.
"Most demonstrations, rallies and gatherings have turned ugly with vandalism to private and public property and damages to the infrastructure," she said. "The deposit is a guarantee that people would be safe and businesses would not get disrupted more than they are now." – TradeArabia News Service