The police ombudsman office will conduct independent investigations and will adopt an honest, neutral, professional and transparent approach to all investigations of police misconduct.
These comments were made by the recently appointed police ombudsman for the Ministry of Interior, Secretary-General Nawaf Almaawdah.
The creation of the Office of Ombudsman is a result of a directive by His Majesty the King who has instructed that human rights be protected in accordance with all international standards. It also marks the implementation of one of the recommendations of the BICI Report that called for independent oversight over the police force.
Almaawdah clarified that the Office of Ombudsman at the Ministry of Interior is accountable in accordance with Decree No (27) of 2012 to investigate complaints from civilians against public security force personnel. The Office of Ombudsman is also in charge of overseeing the Internal Affairs Office, keeping records and evidence relating to the investigations and proposing disciplinary actions in appropriate cases. Almaawdah stressed that his office has the legal right to access all information, data and documents related to a complaint.
“My top priorities are to respect the dignity and rights of the citizens of Bahrain in accordance with the constitution and international human rights standards,” Almaawdah said.
“I am committed to upholding the principles within the new Police Code of Conduct and know that this is an important step in beginning to build trust and mutual respect between the community and the police.”
Almaawdah stated that all citizens have the right to be treated with dignity. The Office of Ombudsman will begin accepting complaints immediately upon the completion of a quick but thorough formation of the Ombudsman’s executive and administrative staff.
Both the Office of Ombudsman and the Internal Affairs Office of the MOI have responsibility for investigating complaints of police misconduct. However, the Office of Ombudsman will handle the most serious complaints. If a police officer is found to have committed a crime, the Public Prosecution will be notified and both the complainant and the accused will be informed of the steps taken.
“Transparency, integrity, trust, accountability, community partnership and basic humanity are the principles the Office of Ombudsman was found on,” Almaawdah, said. “The Office of Ombudsman is committed to conducting professional investigations that seek the assistance of specialized experts in legal and human rights issues so that timely and trustworthy results are produced.”
Almaawdah said that he was fully dedicated to his task and to the challenge of developing the competency and effectiveness of the Office of Ombudsman in support of the Kingdom’s path to reform, a more democratic society and to ensure the protection of human rights.