Bahrain vows tougher anti-riot measures
Manama , February 13, 2008
Bahrain's riot police will be forced to use more potentially lethal methods to disperse rioters if MPs ban them from using chemicals, the Interior Ministry has warned.
All substances currently being used in Bahrain to disperse rioters are internationally approved, military courts director Major Humood Saad told parliament at its weekly session.
He said that they were natural substances and that banning police from using them during riots, would mean that they would have to use more potentially lethal and stronger methods, such as rubber bullets.
'We don't want to use anything more lethal or stronger than what we use at the moment, but if the law bans us from using chemical substances, then we will have to use something else,' said Major Saad.
'Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla has directed the use of substances in a limited manner and not as freely as some of you might think, and that's what we have been doing.'
He was speaking during parliament's discussions on a new law to control the use, storage and production of chemical substances and the methods of destroying them in Bahrain.
Parliament legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Khalil Al Marzooq said that Major Saad's comments were contradictory.
'He says that they use natural substances, while he wants an article allowing police to use chemical substances to disperse rioters,' he said.
'This article should be removed from the law, because it is unnecessary since the government says that it doesn't use anything chemical, while this law specifically deals with chemical substances.'
MP Dr Aziz Abul said that the law bans Bahrain from using chemical warfare against enemies, 'but allows police to use it against the people'.
'It is inhumane to do it to our enemies, yet we want to do it to our own people, what kind of government is this?' he asked.
MP Shaikh Hassan Sultan said that the substances used in teargas by the ministry have led to serious illnesses, even resulting in death.
'I don't have a scientific study or proper figures, but many have suffered from the complications associated with their use and were admitted to hospital, and what if those complications resurface again?'
MP Mohammed Al Mizal said that it was unnecessary for the government to use chemical substances to disperse rioters.
'Unless Al Qaeda militants stage a suicide-bombing demonstration, then that's something else, and even then the use of chemical substances in this case is inhumane,' he said.
Foreign Ministry representative Yousif Abdulkarim said that Bahrain was introducing the law based on an international agreement it has recently signed on chemical substances.
'It took us three years to come up with a law that matches the articles of the agreement,' he said.-TradeArabia News Service