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Congress Mandates US State Department to Prepare Report on Implementation of “BICI Recommendations”

2017-05-10 - 5:41 p

Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) said that "the US Congress recently reached on deal on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations act. Included is the Senate committee report, which mandates that the US Department of State will have to submit an updated assessment report on the Bahraini government's implementation of the recommendations in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). The 2017 report is due within 45 days of passing."

The organization said that "in the upcoming BICI implementation report from the State Department, the assessments of each recommendation should be updated to accurately reflect the situation on the ground," adding that "specifically, in response to the NSA again having arrest powers and military courts' ability to try civilians, at least two of the State Departments assessments must change."

It noted that "additionally, in the 2017 report, the State Department should include in its reporting a status of "implemented" or "not implemented" for each BICI recommendation."

"Similarly, the FY 2016 appropriations mandated that State Department submit a report on the implementation of the BICI recommendations. In addition to being late, the 2016 report failed to accurately assess the implementation of the BICI recommendations and included no clear status of implementation," it indicated.

ADHRB added that "for instance, the State Department found Bahrain's National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) to be "administratively independent" and adherent to the relevant international regulations, known as the Paris Principles," highlighting that "This conclusion was inconsistent with the decision of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the Paris Principles earlier that same month, which reportedly assigned the NIHR a "B" partial compliance rating, indicating a failure to achieve full accreditation."

The organization stated "with a number of key actions carried out just this year by the Bahraini government, the assessments will be expected to reflect the reversal of previously-implemented recommendations," stressing that Royal Decree, which states: "Officers and members of the National Security Agency (NSA) have the power to order detention in terrorism crimes" directly contradicts BICI recommendation 1718, which was one of the few recommendations fully implemented following Royal Decree 115/2011 that stripped the NSA of its arresting powers. Since the announcement in January, the use of live ammunition has been used against protesters by individuals whose physical description is consistent with the BICI description (page 270) of NSA agents. This resulted in the death of 18-year-old Mustafa Hamdan.

ADHRB announced "additionally, the Government of Bahrain in February 2017 passed an amendment to the Constitution that allows military courts to try civilians in cases defined by the government as relating to national security." The organization pointed out that this amendment "is in direct violation of the spirit of recommendation 1720, which called for cases heard in military courts during 2011 to be transferred to civil courts."

The organization mentioned number of examples, including trial of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who first tried in military courts and is currently serving a life sentence for false terror-related charges as well as journalist Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi who has been subjected to more than three years in prison for terror charges against him.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain indicated that the first case since the promulgation of the new amendment, the case of Fadhel Abbas Radhi, will be referred to a military court. Fadhel Abbas Radhi, arrested on 29 September 2016, has been in detention without access to a lawyer and limited access to his family via telephone. His whereabouts are unknown, and the government reportedly has not yet brought charges against him.

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