The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Statement
10th Aug 2011
In view of the fact that certain statements made by chairman of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (“BICI”) have been interpreted as prejudging the outcome of the Inquiry, the BICI has decided to issue the following statement on how it has worked, will continue to work, and determine the contents of its report. 1. The BICI is still at the beginning of its investigations. It has not reached any final conclusions. Its work continues to be independent and free from any interference, either by the government of Bahrain, any other government, or any interest group, either within or outside of Bahrain. The BICI hires its own staff, conducts its own investigations, has its own budget, and acts in every respect as an independent commission.
2. In carrying out its responsibilities, the BICI has so far met with a number of government officials, as well as opposition leaders, representatives of civic organizations, and individual victims and witnesses. It has conducted unscheduled visits to several detention and prison facilities, as well as police stations, and its investigators have spoken to detained individuals outside the presence of any public official. It has also reviewed arrest and conviction records.
In the short period since July 24, the BICI has:
Met with over 200 persons in prisons and detention facilities and injured persons in hospitals; 50 senior government officials, including several members of cabinet; 18 opposition parties and civil society organizations; 90 students who have been suspended from their studies; and 105 persons who have been arbitrarily dismissed from their work positions. Received 300 complaints from dismissed employees. Recorded 140 allegations of physical abuse and torture in prisons and police stations. Secured the release of 151 persons from prisons or detention facilities. This number includes 137 persons who were charged with misdemeanors and were pending trial. These cases were transferred from the military court system to the civilian court system by a Royal Order at the request of the BICI chairman. Instigated an investigation by the Ministry of Interior into 2 police officers and 10 police personnel charged with physical abuse and torture. Received statements from 348 witnesses and victims of alleged arbitrary arrest and detention, physical abuse, and torture. Received over 900 emails, many of them containing information about events, and alleged victimization, either by the sender or claimed to be known by the sender. 3. All of the above has been done in cooperation with individual witnesses and victims, representatives of political opposition groups and civil society organizations, and the government. The BICI wishes to acknowledge with appreciation the hundreds of victims and witnesses who have come forward with their information. In addition, the BICI wishes to reassure them and others of the safety and privacy of these communications. We have taken and will continue to take all possible measures to safeguard the confidentiality of all information received, and we sincerely believe that there is no reason for anyone to believe otherwise.
4. It is important for anyone following the work of the BICI to know that while all of what is described above is taking place, there can be no final conclusions that can be derived therefrom. Conclusions and recommendations will occur after investigations are complete, and a more complete record is established. As of now, it can be stated that the BICI has had the cooperation of witnesses and victims, civil society organizations, opposition groups, and the government. The chairman of the BICI has publicly credited the Ministry of Interior, National Security Agency, the Attorney General, and the Military Prosecutor General for their cooperation, and it is only fair to do so. This should not be interpreted by anyone as covering up or overlooking the responsibility of any organization or any person for any illegal act. The BICI will continue to gather evidence and the conclusions in its report will be based on that evidence, in whatever direction it may lead and at any and all levels of responsibility.
5. We look forward to the continued cooperation of all parties concerned, and we hope that the heightened level of anxiety that exists in Bahrain society, and particularly with respect to the victims and families of victims of those who have been arrested, detained, tried and convicted, physically mistreated and tortured, does not carry them to any unfounded conclusions or judgments on the BICI and its work. We remain committed to the truth, and to continuing our work on the basis of impartiality, fairness, and neutrality.