ACTIVISTS REFUTE BAHRAIN GOVT CLAIM OF REFORM IMPLEMENTATION
Researchers Launch “Government Inaction” Website to Track Govt’s Implementation of BICI Recommendations
[Manama] The Bahraini government has failed to fully implement any of the recommendations made by a prominent rights commission last year, said a team of independent activists on Thursday.
The group, calling itself Bahrain Watch, made the statement on the launch of their new website Government Inaction (http://bahrainwatch.org/govinaction). The website tracks and scrutinizes the government’s progress in implementing reforms set out in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), also known as the Bassiouni Commission.
Released in November 2011, the BICI report found that government personnel had committed a wide range of human rights abuses, including torture, in the crackdown against anti-government protesters last year. As of today, the Bahraini government claims on its website that it has completely implemented 13 of the 26 recommendations made by the BICI, and a government spokesperson recently told the Wall Street Journal: “over 75% of the Bassiouni report’s recommendations have been implemented and the rest of the proposals are being put into effect.” The Commission’s recommendations can broadly be summarized as:
- Reforms to the police sector, judiciary, and state media
- Redress for victims of human rights violations including prisoners and mosque demolitions
- A process of national reconciliation
“By claiming to implement the recommendations, the Bahraini government has tried to portray that it has made amends for all of the human rights violations detailed in the BICI report,” said Bahrain Watch founding member Bill Marczak. “However, we are unaware of a single recommendation that has been fully addressed by the Government yet, hence the name Government Inaction for our website.”
“As an example,” Marczak said, “the BICI called for the prosecution of those responsible for deaths and torture at all levels, however in the four months since the release of the report the government has only charged nine low level police officers in relation to six such cases.” Marczak added that this failure to prosecute human rights abuses uncovered by the Bassiouni Commission, as well as the failure to seriously address police reform, are directly responsible for ongoing cases of death, torture, and abuse.
The Government Inaction project consists of a new website http://bahrainwatch.org/govinaction, which has a breakdown of the recommendations, the government’s claims of what it has done to implement each recommendation, and an independent assessment of the extent to which the recommendations have been implemented. The site is continually updated to monitor the government’s progress.
About Bahrain Watch:
Bahrain Watch aims to promote effective, transparent, and accountable governance in Bahrain. Through research and advocacy, the organization seeks to help Bahrain realize the development benefits of its limited resources by monitoring the state and its policies.
Bahrain Watch is an ambitious long-term work-in-progress project by independent researchers both inside and outside Bahrain that is focused on factual, evidence-based advocacy in the areas of political reform, economic development and security. Bahrain Watch assesses government polices from constitutional change, police reform, revenue management, to policies for spending and their impact on the lives of citizens or lack thereof. The project is collaborative and aims to serve as a catalyst for bringing diverse parties together, and to harness the power of social media and cyberactivists in order to improve governance and accountability. Its founders are online and on the ground, and share a common vision of speaking truth unto power through a digital platform and digital tools that can lead and aggregate on important issues that affect people’s lives.