Bassiouni welcomes Attorney General’s initiative and release of 137 detainees
As part of the ongoing investigation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), beginning on 7th August, 137 detainees are being released from prison on order from the Attorney General. The 137 detainees had been charged with misdemeanours and were awaiting trial before the military courts. Their cases had been transferred from the military courts to civilian courts following a Royal Decree and at the request of BICI Chair, Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni.
“We are immensely pleased that these detainees have been released,” said Prof. Bassiouni. “They can now enjoy the Holy Month of Ramadan with their families.”
Two of the released detainees are former MPs, Mattar Mattar and Jawad Fairuz, members of the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.
“The Attorney General and the Military Prosecutor General have been most cooperative in this matter, and we look forward to their continued cooperation in the future,” explained Prof. Bassiouni. “The investigative team have made a number of visits to prisons, detention centres and police stations, and hospitals, many of which have been unannounced. They have recorded and collected the testimonies of all the prisoners with whom they”ve met, as well as their families, including documenting reports of cases of mistreatment and torture.”
“We are continuing our investigation of reports of mistreatment and torture, and we will soon have a team of forensic medical experts from outside the country come in to look at all individuals who have complained of physical mistreatment and torture. We will visit them in hospitals and detention facilities, as well as receive them in our offices,” continued Bassiouni.
Since the beginning of the BICI”s work in country on 24th July 2011, the Commission has interviewed over 100 people in its offices, in addition to an undisclosed number of persons interviewed in Bahrain hospitals, prisons and detention centres, and has received statements from 209 witnesses and victims. The BICI has also met with many government officials, representatives of civic groups, human rights organizations, NGOs and opposition leaders. Furthermore, it has instigated an investigation into two police officers and ten police personnel by the Minister of Interior based on witness testimonies.
In line with Royal Order No. 28 of 2011 the Commission has been afforded full access to government agencies, officials and files. The BICI will continue its work until 30th October 2011 when it is due to issue its report on the events which occurred in Bahrain since February 2011 and their consequences. The report will be made public in its entirety after its presentation to the King.
Chairman Bassiouni added, “I wish to extend my appreciation to the 900 persons who have communicated with me by email, to the 73 students who have come to our offices, and to the leaders of civil society, human rights organizations, and political parties who have cooperated with us. Without their cooperation and that of the government, we would not have been able to accomplish so much so quickly. Our work is ongoing and contrary to what some who raise questions about us may say, we have not prejudged anything and we are fortunate to have the confidence of many on all sides of all issues. We will proceed as fast as we can within the short period of time we have left with determination, fairness, impartiality, and neutrality. We are committed to truth, to the defense of human rights, and to upholding the rule of law. We hope that all of this will benefit the people of Bahrain, as well as the state of Bahrain, and bring about peace, stability and justice for all.”