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Bahrain ombusdman takes up 'mistreatment' case

Testimonies are collected amid pledges of close follow up

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s ombudsman on Thursday said that it was monitoring the case of a Bahraini national who was allegedly beaten up inside a detention centre.

“Following the publication of the report in the local media related to a physical assault on a citizen, the Ombudsman dispatched a team to the detention centre where they collected his testimony,” the ombudsman said. “The team also heard from the alleged victim’s brother about the incident and referred all the information to the special investigation unit that is still looking into the case.”

The ombudsman said that it would monitor the case and that it would provide exhaustive details and information to all the parties.

Bahrain’s first police ombudsman office was launched in July amid assurances from Nawaf Al Mutawa, the ombudsman, that his work would be transparent, honest and objective.

“The ombudsman will be independent administratively and financially and will look into all cases referred by individuals, be they Bahraini citizens, expatriates living in the kingdom or visitors on trips,” Al Muawda said as the unprecedented services to investigate alleged police misconduct were formally launched at a special ceremony.

“[Appointing an] ombudsman was among the recommendations set forth by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), and we have been working closely with well-established similar institutions to benefit from their experience and approach,” Al Mouawda said.

Diplomatic missions in Bahrain and groups can file reports against abuses on behalf of alleged victims and the ombudsman will take up their cases, he said.

“The Ombudsman was established to ensure compliance with professional standards of policing set forth in the Code of Conduct for the Police, as well as in the administrative regulations governing the performance of civil servants,” Al Mouawda said. “It operates within a general framework that includes respect for human rights and the consolidation of justice, the rule of law and the trust of the public, in line with Recommendation 1717 and Recommendation 1722 Paragraph (d) in the BICI report.”

He added that the Ombudsman had the right to visit prisons, juvenile care centres, and detention centres “to ascertain the legality of the procedures, and to ensure that inmates, prisoners and detainees are not subjected to torture or inhuman or derogatory treatment.”

Tasks by the Ombudsman include recommending disciplinary action to the interior ministry and informing the public prosecutor in criminal offense cases.

“We will deepen our experience by extending training and contacts with others as we want the experience to be successful and highly beneficial for all parties. We are not out there to target anyone or to compete with any agency. We just want justice and fairness to prevail,” Al Mouawda said.