Bahrain Ombudsman's office probes 242 complaints
Manama, May 29, 2014
Twelve Interior Ministry personnel, including high-ranking officers, are facing criminal charges in connection with allegations of torture and police misconduct.
Two others are facing disciplinary action, according to the first annual report released by the ministry's Ombudsman Office yesterday, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The independent office has investigated 242 complaints in the last 10 months that were lodged by citizens and residents, of which 29 were referred to the Special Investigation Unit, 15 to the military court and one to the Public Prosecution.
The report documents different complaints including gunshot injuries, tear gas inhalation, suicides, mistreatment of inmates at detention centres and negligence that resulted in the deaths of three prisoners.
Ombudsman secretary-general Nawaf Al Ma'awada said strict action was also taken by the ministry in 45 cases.
"The Ombudsman Office received 242 complaints from citizens, residents and from places of detention and 39 of these are still under investigation," he said.
"Our team of trained male and female investigators carried out their duties in a transparent manner and in one case a policeman was sentenced to six months and fined."
Al Ma'awada was speaking during a press conference held at the Gulf Hotel along with Ombudsman deputy secretary general Osama Al Asfoor.
Figures showed that 47 complaints were registered last month - the highest number since July last year.
The report also stated that 37 complaints were received from police stations in the five governorates with the majority of 13 from the Muharraq Governorate.
"The number of complaints we are receiving is increasing which shows the trust and the confidence among people in Bahrain and we continue to monitor the progress of other cases," added Al Ma'awada.
Citizens and residents also filed grievances about alleged police conduct in different bodies within the ministry.
Thirty-eight complaints were lodged against the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations, 11 against Special Security Forces, five against the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs, eight with the General Directorate of Traffic and two against Customs Affairs.
Figures also showed that two complaints each were registered against Bahrain International Airport's police and the Anti-Corruption, Economic and Cyber Crimes division.
"We have set up a follow up department within our office to keep track of the progress of the court verdicts and communicate with the complainants," said Al Ma'awada.
He added that 109 complaints were not investigated because they were not related to ministry personnel.
"Our mandate is to investigate alleged police misconduct and to also press charges if the claims are true," he explained.
"We are here to guarantee accountability and initiate action against any ministry staff that violates the law."
Al Ma'awada urged people to contact the Ombudsman for any misconduct allegations against uniformed or civilian security personnel. - TradeArabia News Service