Bahrain's rights watchdog probes abuse claims
Manama, July 17, 2014
Bahrain's rights watchdog has registered 34 complaints in the last six months, including torture allegations and sectarian discrimination.
The National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has launched investigations into the claims made by citizens and residents, some of which will be referred for legal action, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It also accused government agencies of hindering their probe by not responding to their queries.
"In the past six months we registered a total of 34 complaints with most complaints in May and June," said NIHR vice-chairman and complaints monitoring and follow up committee head Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi.
"These were related to workplace discrimination including promotion problems, torture allegations, ill-treatment, sectarian discrimination and also complaints related to expatriates."
Some of the complaints were related to allegations that prisoners were mistreated or kept in poor conditions, while others were about social and economic rights.
However, Dr Al Deerazi said they have been facing difficulties in following up the complaints with concerned authorities.
"We are not happy with the responses from the ministries who failed to answer our queries or even address the problems raised by the NIHR acting on the complaints received," he said.
Dr Al Deerazi said in the last 16 months they have managed to gain the trust of citizens, who are approaching them in increasing numbers to solve their disputes.
"We not only lodge complaints related to human rights violations, but also dealt with 32 cases where people contacted us to seek help from other (government) departments," he explained.
"The people in Bahrain are now more aware about their rights and know they can contact us for help."
He referred to the NIHR's intervention in ending a major dispute over the cause of death of Bahraini Abdulaziz Moussa Al Abbar, who was fatally injured when police clashed with rioters on February 23 following a funeral procession.
Al Abbar, 27, died in hospital on April 18 from gunshot injuries, but his body was kept at the morgue until July 6 because his family wanted authorities to change the death certificate, which only referred to brain haemorrhage.
"We were in constant touch with the father and managed to resolve the case after he received the medical report according to his demand," said Al Deerazi.
"This was despite some groups exploiting the father of the deceased to politicise the entire issue."
The GDN earlier reported that the NIHR recorded a total of 124 complaints from January last year until January this year, which included 45 complaints connected with torture and mistreatment allegations.
They have been compiled in the NIHR's first annual report, which will be submitted to His Majesty King Hamad soon.
"This is a comprehensive 150-page report that lists the violations and will also educate people about human rights in Bahrain," added Al Deerazi.
The NIHR was formed by His Majesty in 2009 to work with state agencies to draft Bahrain's rights reports, hold conferences and workshops and develop efforts to promote human rights.
It was restructured last year and new members were appointed for a renewable four-year term.
Former MP Aziz Abul heads the body and other members include MPs, lawyers and members of the Shura Council. - TradeArabia News Service