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Transparent investigations into alleged abuses by Bahrain’s police promised

Office set up to look into all allegations made against the police

Image Credit: AP
Protesters throw stones at riot police in the narrow streets of Muharraq, Bahrain. A mob on Saturday attacked a police station outside Manama with petrolbombs, as sporadic protests appeared to intensify in the country.
Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s Police Ombudsman’s Office will adopt an honest, neutral, professional and transparent approach as it carries out independent investigations into allegations made against the police, Nawaf Al Mouawda, the newly-appointed ombudsman, has pledged.

“My top priorities are to uphold the dignity and rights of all citizens in accordance with the Bahraini Constitution and laws as well as with international rights standards and within a strong commitment to the Police Code of Conduct,” Al Mouawda said. “The code is a highly significant step forward towards building bridges of confidence and mutual respect between the community and the police, based on the robust pillars of rights, justice, equality, transparency and fairness within the rule of law.”

The ombudsman’s office was established upon a recommendation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the international panel that probed the unrest that hit Bahrain in 2011, to receive and investigate complaints from civilians against public security staff.

The BICI reported abuses by security forces and called for the establishment of an ombudsman’s office to help establish and promote a new positive culture.

“Both the Ombudsman’s Office and the Internal Affairs Office will investigate complaints and will keep the competent authorities in the Ministry of Interior informed in order to take the appropriate disciplinary action against the police personnel who break the law. The offices will also liaise with the public prosecution in the criminal cases. The complainant and the accused will be notified about the measures taken throughout the investigation and about the conclusions,” said Al Mouawda in his first statement since he was appointed by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on August 7.

“The office is also tasked with overseeing the Internal Affairs Office, keeping evidence and investigation results and proposing appropriate disciplinary action. It has the right to access all information, data and documents related to complaints,” he said. Fully committed

Efficiency, transparency, integrity, trust, accountability and community and humane partnership are essential values in the Ombudsman’s Office, Al Mouawda added.

“We are fully committed to conducting serious, credible and transparent investigations and we will enlist the assistance and experience of experts in legal and human rights issues in order to achieve timely and fair results for the sake of the nation and all citizens and residents,” he said.

Al Mouawda said that the rights of all Bahrainis to appropriate treatment and human dignity were enshrined in the nation’s legislation and the constitution and that he would start receiving complaints after the office is set up and the executive and administrative staff, consultants and assistants are appointed.