Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who held series of meetings during an official two-day visit to the USA, including US officials and members of the Senate as well as Congressmen, said that 2011 violence which led to killing of innocent people was fueled by the foreign interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
He met with CIA director-general David Petraeus and FBI director Robert Mueller. He also held talks with Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Michael Posner in the presence of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Affairs and Fight Against Drugs Brooke Barbie and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Arabian Gulf in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs as well as Deputy National Security adviser Denis McDonough.
The minister met with US senators, including John McCain, head of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, in the presence of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Daniel Inouye, Ben Cardin and James Risch.
Shaikh Rashid held talks with Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressmen and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee Keith Ellison and Dana Rohrabacher, and Congressman and member of the Human Rights Committee Jim McGovern.
The Interior Minister highlighted steps taken by Bahrain to deal with last year’s incidents, including implementation of the recommendations featuring in the final report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
He said Bahrain had always led the way to a democratic approach since the launch of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s comprehensive reforms project more than 10 years ago, stressing that incidents in Bahrain were not internal matters since they received outside support to escalate them to the level of violence and vandalism.
This, he said, had led to death of innocent people and created fear among citizens and residents.
“We understand that security and civil peace cannot be achieved by force or through violence and terror but through respect for the law and loyalty to the nation in order to achieve justice. This is a sign of wise governance by His Majesty the King,” he said.
In this regard, the minister said the investigations related to the seizure of five tonnes of explosives had shown that a number of them were ready to be used and showed links between the suspects in the case and foreign parties.
He highlighted that during the crisis Bahrain had witnessed aggressive media attacks based on biased and far-from-objective reports.
“This was proven to be baseless,” he said, and thanked the BBC for its brave act of admitting to not being fair while covering the incidents of the last year.
The minister said the new Police Code of Conduct was based on various international policing codes, including that of the UN. He said an independent ombudsman had been appointed and his office looked at all complaints against police and state-of-the-art audio-visual recording systems had been installed in detention centres and police stations.
Prisoner management and monitoring systems were being introduced and the Red Cross had full access to detention facilities and all prisoners. The CID is being reformed to move away from confession-based to science-based investigations and evidence, he said.
Shaikh Rashid expressed Bahrain’s keenness to reinforce security co-operation with the US and exchange expertise in continuation of the MoU signed in 2007 to open new horizons between the two countries and enhance the effectiveness of security forces.
The minister said reinforcement of the American expertise was being sought in policing to reach an international level in security work and to develop various police sectors.
The US officials praised HM the King’s reforms project and highlighted the importance of Bahrain as a strong ally and friend of the US, expressing sincere appreciation for the Kingdom for hosting the US Fifth Fleet.
They also appreciated the government’s efforts to implement the BICI report and the ministry’s efforts to implement the police code of conduct.
The Interior Minister was accompanied by the Inspector-General, the Director-General of the Ministry of Interior Court, the Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and the Director of Police Media.