The interrogations of both leaders focused on their meeting with Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S State Department.
The Public Prosecution Office interrogated Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, and his Political Assistant Khalil Almarzooq, Thursday 10th July 2014. The interrogations of both leaders focused on their meeting with Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S State Department.
Al Wefaq National Islamic Society stresses that reform in Bahrain is necessary and inevitable, however, the Authority is complicating the crisis and moving further away from international legitimacy. The Bahraini Authority is increasingly violating the pledges it has made before the international community. The absence of a genuine solution is widening the gap between the regime and the people and raising the cost of a solution for citizens and the country as a whole.
Al Wefaq’s Secretary-General and Assistant-Secretary appeared before the Public Prosecution Office to give their testimonies pursuant to Al Wefaq’s strategy of open activism. However, the summons they had received lacked in legal requirements.
What happened on Thursday illustrates a continuation of the misuse of the law to attack the opposition as confirmed by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. It also proves once again the Bahrain judiciary is a “system of injustice” as Human Rights Watch described it.
Indeed, HRW very accurately described the situation of the judiciary in Bahrain in its report, “Criminalizing Dissent, Entrenching Impunity; Persistent Failures of the Bahraini Justice System Since the BICI Report”. This is clearly demonstrated when the Public Prosecution Office shelves lawsuits filed by Al Wefaq against Governmental officials, while those lawsuits against Al Wefaq get attention within several hours and its leaders are immediately summoned.
Al Wefaq’s Secretary-General and Assistant-Secretary have been both accused of communicating with a representative of a foreign State in violation to the law of political societies and relevant ministerial decisions. The two leaders refuted the accusations, arguing the law contradicts international standards such as Articles 19 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Bahrain has signed up to. This is in addition to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the 1961 Vienna Convention and Articles 3 and 5 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The restrictive decision that was taken by the Justice Minister in Bahrain, and which obliges political societies to meet with foreign State representatives only with the presence of a representative from the Foreign Ministry, received negative response from world capitals.
Salman and Almarzooq also said in the interrogation that the mentioned decision was not applied by other political societies in the country, stressing that the implementation of the decision is practically impossible. Foreign States do not accept the presence of a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the meetings their diplomats and envoys hold. Furthermore, according to international conventions, national laws cannot be imposed on what goes on inside the buildings of embassies.
The two leaders also noted that by issuing this decision, the Justice Minister has crossed his legal capacity and violated Article 31 of the Bahraini constitution.
Al Wefaq agrees with Mr. Tom Malinowski in what he stated in his Tweet that the move undermines dialogue. Indeed, the Authority has expelled dialogue in what signals the lack of a genuine desire to reach a political solution that achieves long-term stability for Bahrain. The Authority’s decision against Mr. Malinowski indicates a desire to exclude critical opinions and deepen autocracy and intolerance.
The international community is requested to ensure Bahrain’s respect of international law and human rights by pushing for inclusive reform. Political compliments only provide more opportunities for the Authority to escape the necessary solution. Moreover, it intensifies the conflict in the shadow of the current sensitive and dangerous regional situation and which urges for pressure to quickly resolve the Bahraini crisis.