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Bahrain investigation commission chair dead

Cherif Bassiouni led a high-profile team to investigate events in 2011

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa has mourned the death of Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, a law professor who headed the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) tasked with looking into the events that unfolded in the country in February and March 2011 and to make the recommendations it deemed appropriate.

“He told the truth and nothing more than the truth. May God rest the soul of Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni. Our condolences to his family and to his brotherly country Egypt. From God we come and to God we return,” Shaikh Khalid posted on his Twitter account.

The 79-year-old Egyptian-American human rights expert and law professor at De Paul University in Chicago had multiple myeloma and died on Monday at his Streeterville home, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

Bassiouni was appointed by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to lead a high-profile commission established in June 2011 and tasked with investigating and reporting on the events that took place in Bahrain from February 2011 and their consequences.

The terms of reference set out in the king’s order included a number of features that contributed to the commission’s integrity and independence.

Thus, the commission was wholly independent from the Bahraini government and was responsible for hiring its own staff and administering its own budget. It was afforded full access to government agencies, officials and files.

Bassiouni in July 2011 said that the decision to launch the investigation was a brave move.

“This is the first time that the leader of an Arab or Muslim country calls for the formation of an international commission to investigate events in his country. This is remarkable and we hope that other leaders will have the courage to do the same,” he said.

The commission included Canadian judge and former International Criminal Court president Philippe Kirsch, British human rights lawyer Nigel Rodley, Iranian lawyer Mahnhoush Arsanjani and Kuwaiti Islamic and international law expert Badria Al Awadi.

In November, the BICI issued its detailed report that included recommendations to improve accountability and bring government practice in line with international standards.

“I think the report is probably the best of its kind of any similar body, whether such a body was established at a national level, or by the United Nations,” Bassiouni told Gulf News one day after the publication of the report.

Bassiouni was born in Cairo to an Egyptian diplomat to India. He was educated at the University of Cairo, received a law degree from Indiana University, did further legal studies at John Marshall Law School and got a doctorate of law from George Washington University. He was a founding member of the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul, where he started in 1964, the Chicago Sun Times said.

Over the years, Bassiouni held 22 United Nations appointments and assisted on the Camp David peace accords

He is well-published and has authored a number of works including some of the leading textbooks in International Criminal Law.

He chaired the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Libya (2011). He was also involved in commissions investigating the human rights situation in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.

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