Bahraini MP's and Shura council members attend an extraordinary special meeting of the Bahraini Shura Council and House of Representatives in Manama, on July 28, 2013. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Bahrain’s interior ministry has installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at police detention centres as recommended by its ombudsman. The recommendation called for equipping buildings, corridors and prison cells and the Dry Dock detention centre with surveillance cameras to ensure legal guarantees and basic needs for prisoners and detainees.

The ombudsman said in a statement that they had started monitoring detention and reformation centres and that cameras had been installed in interrogation rooms. “The measure is in line with the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI),” the ombudsman said. The international fact-finding commission was set up by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June 2011 to look into the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March. Following four months of fieldwork and thousands of interviews, the BICI released in November a searing report that recommended impressive changes to improve the situation and ensure that the dramatic events are not repeated. Bahrain officially accepted the report and set up its own commission to monitor the implementation of the recommendations.

The interior ministry said that it had introduced several far-reaching changes to improve the mindset of its staff and elevate practices to international standards. Experts from Western countries were recruited to help with the changes and the accountability culture enshrined in a code of ethics. The ombudsman was set up to help tackle problems related to misconduct and abuses.

The ministry said that it had acted on the recommendation to install surveillance cameras in line with the commitment to human rights and the development of reform and rehabilitation centres within the appropriate local and international legal frameworks and standards. The ombudsman, formally launched in July, takes up cases filed by Bahrainis, expatriates and visitors to the kingdom against interior ministry personnel, both in uniform and civilians, and will examine complaints related to death or severe physical harm. It also takes up cases proactively and does not have to wait for filing of complaints. The ombudsman makes both announced and unannounced inspection visits to prisons and detention centres.