Recommendation 1717

To place the office of the Inspector General in MoI as a separate entity independent of the Ministry's hierarchical control, whose tasks should include those of an internal "ombudsman's office," such as that which exists in many other countries. The new Inspector's General's office should be able to receive individual or organisational complaints, protect the safety and privacy of the complainants, carry out independent investigations and have the authority to conduct disciplinary and criminal proceedings as required by CAT, the ICCPR and the Bahrain Criminal Code to the Prosecutor General. The office should also promulgate and enforce police professional standards and carry out legal and sensitivity training for police officers.

Status

On 30 January 2012, the Interior Minister approved a new police code of conduct. The code of conduct was released in the Official Gazette on 1 March 2012. The text of the code has not yet been publicized, and currently only seems to be avaiable in Arabic, in the Official Gazette. The code requires police to uphold the rule of law without prejudice, remain loyal to the King, use force only as a last resort, and never engage in torture or other ill-treatment, even if ordered to by a superior officer.

On 28 February 2012, the King issued a decree setting up an ombudsman's office, and an internal affairs department in the Ministry of Interior. The ombudsman and his deputy will be recommended by the Interior Ministry, and approved by the Prime Minister. It does not seem that there is a requirement that the ombudsman be someone from outside the Ministry of Interior.

In fact, it appears that Brigadier-General Ibrahim Habib al-Ghaith, the Ministry of Interior's Inspector General since at least 2007, was chosen for the ombudsman post in a 17 February 2012 decree. A group of officials including Ibrahim Habib al-Ghaith denied in 2010 (page 64) to Human Rights Watch that 20 detainees who had alleged torture in custody were mistreated, suggesting instead that the consistency of their claims was evidence that the detainees had fabricated their stories. Furthermore, Badr Ibrahim al-Ghaith, Ibrahim's son, is a First Lieutenant in Bahrain's National Security Agency, and is accused of torturing several detainees (page 32). Both Ibrahim's previous denial of torture and the allegations against his son make it unlikely that he will be able to successfully receive individual complaints and protect the privacy of complainants. This constitutes a violation of the spirit of the recommendation.

Meanwhile, an internal affairs department is supposedly being established, though as stated by the government, the Public Prosecution (headed by the Attorney General) will make the calls on prosecutions and investigations, as is currently the case (page 29). See recommendation 1716 for details on why the Public Prosecution is unlikely to be impartial.

Government Claim

(source: www.govactions.bh on 3/3/2012)

For this recommendation, the External Legal Experts (see recommendation 1716 above) have advised on (a) the establishment of an Independent Ombudsman, outside the MoI, to oversee and conduct investigations in

(i) the most serious allegations made against the police and

(ii) serious issues affecting the public confidence in policing;

and (b) a new Internal Affairs Department in the MoI with internal responsibility for first order disciplinary review. The relevant decree establishing both the Ombudsman and the Internal Affairs department was issued on 28 February 2012. The Decree, taking inspiration from the UK ombudsman model, was drafted by the External Legal Experts in consultation with John Yates and John Timoney.

On (b), on 30 January, the Minister of Interior approved a new Code of Conduct for Bahraini Police. The Code of Conduct was drafted in consultation with John Timoney, as well as legal and policing experts, and is based on various international policing codes, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the European Code of Police Conduct. It adopts the "principles-based" approach, setting out the broad duties of police officers in relation to various aspects of their work, including the use of force, respect for human dignity and maintaining the rule of law. As the introduction states, the Code constitutes a new social contract between the police and the Bahraini community.

The MOI has also finalised a Police Manual (the Manual) setting out the duties of police officers, including procedures to be followed when arresting persons. The pocket sized manual will be issued to all officers; and will be made part of the training programme for police officers.

A new programme for human rights and legal training (on the procedures) has already begun for new police officers. Existing officers will also be trained in this programme, which will now be enriched by the new Code and the Manual. A programme is being developed for sensitivity training by John Timoney and John Yates. Training of officers will always be updated from the lessons learnt by the Ombudsman. The new decree contains a provision that obliges the Ombudsman to "assist the Police to ensure that any relevant lessons learned are incorporated into existing policies or training, as the case may be".

Technical assistance on this recommendation will be provided the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN office with the exclusive mandate for criminal justice. A formal agreement is currently being finalised with the UNODC to provide such assistance.

Recommendation 1717
Turn the Ministry of Interior's office of the Inspector General into an "ombudsman's office"
Status: Violated
Government claim: Implemented

Summary:

  • Implementation Police code of conduct, implemented on 30 January 2012, was made public on 1 March 2012
  • Implementation Decree establishing an ombudsman's office published, but concerns about independence
  • Violation Apparent new ombudsman is the current Inspector General with links to torture