Six years on, still Manama turns its back on BICI recommendations

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - November 23 marked six years since the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) – set up to investigate Manama’s human rights abuses in 2011 – released its findings.

At the time, Bahrain’s monarch, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, organized a ceremonial unveiling of the report and Manama accepted 26 BICI recommendations.

But six years on, activists and rights groups maintain that Manama’s intensified clampdown on dissent in recent months has seen the regime backtrack on all recommendations.

The BICI report stipulated that the trying of hundreds of civilians before military courts during the state of emergency in 2011 violated the right to a fair trial. However, in April of this year, Al Khalifa signed off on a constitutional amendment that allows military courts to try civilians.

The BICI also asked that Manama’s National Security Agency (NSA) be stripped of its powers. But in January, the agency’s law enforcement powers were restored, allowing it to lead the charge in the jailing and torturing of regime critics.

Also in January, Manama executed three Bahrainis, ignoring the commission’s recommendation to commute all death sentences.

And in June it shut down Bahrain’s only independent newspaper in a blatant disregard for the BICI’s calls for freedom of the press.

The BICI report, which consisted of 9,000 testimonies and documented 46 deaths, remains the most comprehensive document detailing human rights violations by Manama’s security forces, judiciary and other institutions.

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