The unit in charge of follow up of the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI Follow Up Unit), announced an update for various ministries and government departments including the reinstatement of dismissed workers, national reconciliation efforts, security agencies, media and the educational sector.
Dana Al-Zayani, Head of the BICI Follow up Unit, said that the Ministry of Labour’s recent statistics show that the majority of the dismissed workers were reinstated to their original jobs. In cases where reinstatement to original jobs was not possible, the Government took it upon itself to reinstate workers to other jobs of equal grades, pay and benefits.
In the Government’s endeavor to restore matters back to normal, and in the spirit of national reconciliation, the Government directed all private companies to reinstate 2,462 dismissed workers. As a result, 92% of the dismissed workers were reinstated in their jobs. This percentage is broken down as follows:
Around 1765 dismissed workers are employed by private companies partially owned by the Government. To date, most of them were reinstated. 12 workers only were rejected by some companies, and are seeking litigation.
About 697 workers are employed by private sector companies, not owned by the Government. Nevertheless, the Government is in constant contact with those companies to encourage and direct them to reinstate the dismissed workers. To date, 160 workers were reinstated to their previous jobs, while 370 were hired by other companies.
Reinstatement of 42 workers was declined by their companies. The workers filed labor claims against their employers, which are currently being reviewed by the courts.
On national reconciliation efforts, the Head of the BICI Follow Up Unit said that following review of the plans of government departments concerned with national reconciliation and the follow up of the extent of implementation of those plans, a number of programs were developed to achieve national reconciliation in many areas, including political, social and economic aspects. The aid of international experts was obtained with full commitment to resolving the problems caused by last year’s crisis. The experts developed plans and programs to remedy them and to consolidate the principle of national reconciliation, in order to alleviate the effects of the situation and strengthen confidence among citizens as one nation.
These steps included the initiative by the Ministry of Social Development allocating US $500,000 to civil society NGOs who contribute to social reconciliation programs. Other social reconciliation programs are aimed at consolidating the national unity of the members of Bahraini society, based on the concept of citizenship and peaceful coexistence.
The Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments efforts to strengthen the principle of national reconciliation, and realizing the active role of religious speech in affecting the behaviors of people, recognizes an urgent need at this stage for religious speech to play a positive role to promote unity, reject violence, extremism, sectarianism and hatred.
Resolution No. 23 of 2009 pertaining to the rules of religious speech, issued by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, and outlining the code to be followed in religious speech, contains a set of guidelines to be followed when delivering religious speeches, lessons and lectures, based on the principles of good citizenship and coexistence, with respect to identity of the sect and pluralism, and avoiding anything that may cause sectarian friction.
During its mandate, the National Commission requested definitions in accordance with international standards for the term incitement of hatred and sectarianism. The Government intends to resolve this issue in accordance with the requirements of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibiting any call for national hatred, racism or religious intolerance; or inciting racism, animosity or violence. The Government is working with a number of entities with international experience in the field of human rights to develop legislation criminalizing such acts.
The Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments is developing a program of courses for imams and speakers to be implemented over the current and upcoming years of 2012-13. Through a number of courses and annual workshops, the Ministry intends to raise the level of religious speech to achieve a number of other objectives including: increased awareness by speakers of the necessity of keeping abreast of modern day requirements and changes; implanting the principle of intellectual moderation and respect for others; fighting extremist thinking and elimination of extremist speech, combating hatred and violence; and emphasizing the principle of equality and citizenship.
These sessions will be directed to a specific group (including speakers from both sexes) who issue fatwas and guide people, as well as imams and speakers, teachers and students in Shariah in institutes, religious schools, and call and guidance centers. The Ministry of Justice has endeavored to ensure that curricula at religious institutes and schools include the values of pluralism and coexistence. Several entities in the Kingdom of Bahrain have participated in the implementation and design of those courses, which shows the extent of interest of everyone concerned in enhancing the principle of national reconciliation. Those entities include the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the Sunni and Jaffari Endowments Directorates, the Supreme Council for Women, the Ministry of Education, scholars, callers to guidance, and speakers of all sects; as well as domestic and foreign intellectuals, representatives of the Arab Leagues and members of the civil society organizations and NGOs.
Moreover, and in collaboration with a non-profit organization specialized in youth affairs in Scotland, many activities are being studied under the umbrella of national reconciliation for young people focusing on participation of youth in numerous events and activities under the supervision of specialists in several fields. The foundation is based on encouraging youth to come up with useful and effective ideas and proposals in various fields within a good environment for dialogue.
In accordance with the Royal directive to find alternatives for settlement of the claims of the injured parties as quickly as possible, the civil settlement initiative was adopted by the Cabinet upon a proposal made by the National Commission.
Dana Al-Zayani stated that the Civil Settlement Office at the Ministry of Justice received a number of compensation claims. The Civil Settlement Office has settled 17 of those cases in its first phase. Civil settlements awarded to the 17 cases totaled BD 1,020,000 ($2,600,000). These settlements are in the process of being paid to recipients, without prejudice to any criminal liability.
In accordance with royal directives, and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and the BICI recommendation stating that five demolished sites were properly allocated, Dana Al-Zayani stated that work commenced on rebuilding five sites as referred to in the report, and is now nearing completion.
Al-Zayani added that the status of a further eight sites was corrected and they have now been fenced. Work is nearing completion on procedures related to the allocation of nine more sites, thus making the total with corrected status and the total in process of allocation twenty-two sites. Study continues on the status of title deeds and planning requirements of eight sites.
With regard to places of worship, the action taken is within the framework of the continued endeavor to assess and provide for the requirements of all areas, and to allocate lands for the construction of places of worship in various areas and governorates commensurate with the approved zoning requirements and in accordance with applicable Bahraini laws and regulations.