A day after the historic publication of the report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a Working Group set up by the Bahrain Government has held its first meeting to study the report and start the process of addressing recommendations of the independent commission as a matter of urgent priority.
The urgent nature of the Working Group’s study was highlighted on Wednesday by HM King Hamad in his speech replying to the Chairman of the BICI, Cherif Bassiouni at the event to launch the independent commission’s report when he said, “we intend to waste no time in benefitting from your work.”
Chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Shaikh Mohammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, the working group will meet again on Saturday and present its analysis and proposed action plan for consideration at the next regular weekly cabinet meeting.
Over recent months, the Government of Bahrain has already taken significant steps to address many of the issues covered in the independent commission’s report by instituting several important reforms.
These have included approving legislation to establish a new National Human Rights Institution, which will be truly independent from the Government in accordance with best international practices. It will provide a solid foundation for an effective and internationally recognised way to monitor and strengthen human rights compliance in Bahrain.
Amendments made recently to Bahrain’s laws include changes to the country’s penal code, so that all forms of torture will be criminalized. These amendments will be accompanied by stricter sentencing for those who commit torture, together with the lifting of the limitation period for claims of torture. The maximum sentence for torture will be set at life imprisonment.
There are also before Parliament amendments to the law that would greatly enhance freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights laws.
The Government has meanwhile established a Special fund for Victims to ensure that those who suffered in any way from the violent events of February and March are rightly compensated.