The Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, released at the same time of its submission to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 23rd November 2011, can be downloaded in its entirety and is available on the homepage.

Prof M. Cherif Bassiouni speech on 23rd November

Final Audit of the BICI Account

29 11 2011

Notice about Arabic language report of the BICI

The Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was presented to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 23rd November and issued in both English and Arabic language versions to the public. However, the report was developed in English and soon after publishing, it was found that the Arabic translation contained some discrepancies. As a result, the Arabic report was removed from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) website until further notice. When this version has been amended to a satisfactory level, it will be published online and in print. In the meantime, members of the public and interested parties should refer to the English language version, available online at:

The BICI is grateful for and appreciative of the public support it has received.

24 11 2011

Speech of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 23rd November

Your Highnesses, Excellencies

Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, Chair of the Commission,

Distinguished Commissioners,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished Guests,


Having heard the important speech of the Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry, we extend our sincere thanks to the Chair and the Commissioners, as well as their  staff, for their remarkable efforts. You merit our deep appreciation. Your  Report is of profound value to us. By taking to heart your findings and recommendations, the people of Bahrain can make this day one that will be remembered in the history of this nation.


Your Report deals with controversial matters of importance. You have sought to establish the true facts of a period of painful unrest which has affected all of us. You have understood the unprecedented challenges faced by our authorities as they confronted relentless provocation, from hostile sources both inside and outside the country. You have recognised the need for our authorities to re-establish public order in the face of violence and intimidation against ordinary people as well as against the essential institutions of the nation. At the same time, you have also identified serious shortcomings on the part of some organs of our Government, particularly in failing to prevent instances of excessive force and of the mistreatment of persons placed under arrest.


Some may wonder why we asked a commission of foreign experts to examine the events of February and March 2011 and their subsequent ramifications. The answer is that any Government which has a sincere desire for reform and progress understands the benefit of objective and constructive criticism.


There are many examples of this around the world. For example, in Europe, we see that the leading national governments are routinely criticised by external institutions which they have themselves created. The European Court of Human Rights frequently sanctions European States for violations of human rights. Leading European powers, notwithstanding their long traditions of human rights,  have been condemned in literally hundreds of cases for denial of justice, and for the torture and ill treatment of detainees.


And yet the governments of these countries do not denounce the European Court. They do not protest or boycott the judges who have criticised them. To the contrary, they are grateful to the Court for having identified the ways in which they must improve if they are to be in harmony with international law and morality. Nor does the international community conclude that these are oppressive governments. They are seen to follow a path of wisdom, acknowledging that they benefit from neutral investigations and from trusting their own capacity to use criticism constructively in the interest of their people.


The question is then, Members of the Commission: what will we do with your Report, so that we derive maximum benefit from it?


The answer is that we are determined, God willing, to ensure that the painful events our beloved nation has just experienced are not repeated, but that we learn from them, and use our new insights as a catalyst for positive change.


We do not want, ever again, to see our country paralysed by intimidation and sabotage. We do not want, ever again, to learn that our expatriate work-force, which makes such valuable contributions to the development of our nation, has been repeatedly terrorised by racist gangs. We do not want, ever again, to see
civilians tried anywhere else but in the ordinary courts. We do not want, ever again, to experience the murder of policemen and the persecution of their
families for the work they do in protecting us all; nor do we want, ever again, to discover that any of our law enforcement personnel have mistreated anyone.


Therefore, we must reform our laws so that they are consistent with international standards to which Bahrain is committed by treaties. Even before receiving your Report, we have introduced proposals to amend our laws to give greater protection to the valuable right of free speech; and to expand the definition
of “torture” to ensure that all forms of ill treatment are sanctioned by our criminal laws. Both of these proposals would place our laws in full conformity
with international human rights standards. We have addressed issues of due process in criminal  trials, in particular for the medical professionals who are now being re-tried in ordinary courts. We have reviewed, and are continuing to review, the circumstances of job dismissals and expulsions from educational institutions. In addition to retrials and reinstatement, affected persons have access to a range of remedies, including the newly established Victims Compensation Fund.


And of course, as I said on the day your Commission was established, we do not tolerate the mistreatment of detainees and prisoners. We are dismayed to find that it has occurred, as your Report has found, and we will not accept any excuse based on national exceptionalism.


Distinguished Members of the Commission,

Your Report is lengthy and detailed. We must study it with the care it deserves. As a first step, a working group of members of the Government will immediately be asked to conduct an in-depth reflection on your findings and recommendations. This working group will then urgently propose concrete responses to your recommendations. We intend to waste no time in benefitting from your work. Your Report provides an historic opportunity for Bahrain to deal with matters that are both serious and urgent. Officials who have not been up to their task must be held accountable, and be replaced. Above all, we must conceive and implement reforms that satisfy all segments of our population. That is the only way to achieve reconciliation, to heal the fractures in our society. In order to ensure that there is no return to unacceptable practices once the Commission has left Bahrain, we have decided to engage international organizations and eminent individuals to assist and advise our law enforcement agencies, and to improve their procedures.


We trust that all will understand that this day, this day which turns a new page of history, has been made possible by the grace of God and because we have had the confidence to resort to an objective and impartial body. To repeat: the nations of Europe are routinely held accountable before the European Court in Strasbourg. That Court, through its hundreds of judgments, has set the standards for modern international human rights. The same is true of the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica. The whole world benefits from the jurisprudence of these Courts. Surely, this shows us that there is something missing. Surely, the Arab nations, with our ancient transitions of fairness and justice, also have something to contribute. Surely, we too need to show that our officials are subject to a higher law, and that we can be proud of our traditions of respect for human rights.


Bahrain was an immediate  supporter of the Arab Charter of Human Rights 15 years ago, but in truth this text has not created a system like those of Europe and the Americas. I will propose to our fellow Arab states that we now move concretely toward the creation of an Arab Court of Human Rights to take its proper place on the international stage.


The Kingdom of Bahrain assumes its international responsibilities seriously. Indeed, it has taken the initiative to contribute to collective international action by providing  facilities for multilateral organisations. In 2009, during the visit of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, we dedicated a significant plot of land in our Capital, Manama, to serve the community of the United Nations; it now houses a regional office of the UN Development Programme. We would welcome other UN agencies, perhaps, for example, by the establishment of a regional office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.


Such international cooperation will of course not replace national initiatives. Just the day before yesterday, we announced that the National Institution for Human Rights is henceforeth established as an independent body possessing its own organic law, to operate in accordance with the Paris Principles, which embody international human-rights standards relevant to the functioning of national institutions.


As for the Government’s responses to the findings and recommendations of your Report, I say again that they involve fundamental issues, and must be dealt with urgently.


All of this being said, we cannot fail to extend our gratitude to our armed forces and law enforcement agencies who restored public order in the face of intimidation and violence; to our GCC allies who participated in protecting key installations by deploying the Peninsula Shield Force, without any confrontation with civilians; and to the multitude of ordinary Bahrainis who took a stand against the forces of violence and sectarian division.


We have every sympathy for those who sincerely and peacefully seek reforms within a pluralistic society where the rights of all are respected, but not for those  who seek to impose totalitarian rule. Our desire for liberal reform goes hand in hand with our deep disappointment, after having extended so many times a hand of friendship toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, by the around-the-clock broadcasts in the Arabic language by Iranian state-controlled radio and television stations, inciting our population to engage in acts of violence, sabotage, and insurrection. Iran’s propaganda fuelled the flames of sectarian strife – an intolerable interference in our internal affairs from which Bahrain has suffered greatly. As you have just correctly said, Chair of the Commission, the Government of Bahrain was not in a position to provide evidence of links between Iran and specific events in our country this year. But this propaganda, an objective fact to be observed by all who have eyes and ears and comprehend Arabic, not only directly challenges the stability and sovereignty of our country, but also poses a threat to the security and stability of the GCC countries. We hope that the Iranian leadership will reflect, and abandon this policy of enmity and discord.


We affirm our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of our nation and its people, and our commitment to reform, and to the rectification of errors in all transparency. We urge all our people to reflect upon their own attitude and intentions, to address their mistakes, and to do their civic duty to contribute
to national unity within a community characterised by tolerance. Our highest objective, after pleasing God, is to promote brotherhood, harmony, and
tolerance among all our people, within the environment of a pluralistic, cohesive, and prosperous society; a society that guarantees the rule of law and
human rights; a society that ensures the tranquil pursuit of opportunities and fulfillment for everyone.

We thank you all for joining us here on this historic day for our beloved nation.

23 11 2011

Prof M. Cherif Bassiouni’s Speech on 23rd November

Your Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,                                     

Your Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister,

Your Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May peace, mercy and the blessings of Allah The Almighty be upon you and upon the gracious people of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

It is an honor to submit to Your Majesty, on behalf of the members of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which I had the honor of chairing, the report of the Commission. In doing so, I pray that The Almighty reward our work.

I have the pleasure of witnessing, in the presence of this distinguished gathering, an event of great legal and political importance. This occasion represents a unique precedent in the region, in light of the fact that the state took the initiative, shortly after the events, to establish an international commission of inquiry without waiting for regional or international pressures to be exercised. The members of the Commission were selected with great objectivity, not only to benefit from their knowledge, experience, and legacies, but also in light of their neutrality, objectivity, dedication to the cause of humanity, and their commitment to the protection of human rights against any infringement, which is the sole means to guaranteeing human welfare.

This is a unique historic and social event because, also for the first time, a government, that is still in power, agrees to open all its files, subject itself to criticism, and to facilitate the work of those who seek to evaluate its performance and to identify its faults. This is despite the sensitivity of the situation in the country in which an atmosphere of mutual mistrust and social unrest prevails, and despite the consequences that could arise out of this inquiry.

It is also my honor to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the citizens of this gracious nation who entrusted us with a great task. I also express my appreciation to the political societies, human rights and civil society organizations, religious institutions, governmental, and private entities of Bahrain, all of which trusted this Commission, and were eager to communicate with it, and played an important role in revealing the facts. Without their cooperation, this large task would not have been fulfilled in such a short period of time.


Your Majesty,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was mandated to prepare a report about the events that occurred in Bahrain during the months of February and March 2011 in addition to the subsequent related events. The Commission was also charged to make whatever recommendations it deemed appropriate for holding accountable those who had violated the rights and freedoms of individuals, and for preventing the recurrence of such incidents in the future.

As a result, the BICI has compiled a report composed of twelve chapters. The report commences with an introduction to the Commission and its methods of work, followed by a background on the modern history and system of government of Bahrain. Then the report describes the applicable legal framework during the events under investigation, and identifies the relevant law enforcement agencies in Bahrain. A detailed narrative of the events is then presented that covers the period from the beginning of February to 31 March 2011, with a special focus on the events that occurred at the Salmaniya Medical  Complex. The report then examines the human rights violations alleged to have been perpetrated by governmental agencies against individuals. These include the deaths that occurred during the events under investigation, the use of force by governmental agencies, the manner in which arrest warrants were executed, the treatment of detainees, and cases of forced disappearances. The report also tackles the demolition of religious structures, dismissals of public and private sector employees, and the expulsion of students and the suspensions of scholarships. The report then examines human rights violations perpetrated by individuals, in particular attacks against expatriates, and Sunni citizens. The report also examines the allegations of foreign involvement in the events that occurred in Bahrain, and discusses the matter of harassment by the media. Subsequently, the report reviews the measures and remedies undertaken by the Government of Bahrain to address some of the human rights violations that took place, as well as to address deficiencies in some domestic legislation.


Your Majesty,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Commission’s work was not easy. We began our work in an atmosphere fraught with tension and were under immense pressure from the public, which was eager to have the testimonies of the many victims and witnesses heard. The Commission had to collect all the evidence, examine the documents and reports submitted to it, and conduct field visits, all of which were arduous tasks. The Commission also ensured the protection of witnesses that it heard and the confidentiality of information it received, which further complicated its work. In addition, the Commissioners and investigators worked to meet the expectations of Bahraini citizens to decisively intervene to prevent human rights violations regardless of the type of that violation or the perpetrator. Overall, the Commission received nearly 9,000 complaints, statements and testimonies and conducted dozens of on-site investigations throughout the country. The Commission also sought to resolve other problems including the dismissal and suspension of university students, employees, healthcare workers, and attempted to mitigate the negative effects of criminal prosecution.

The Commission created a database containing all the information that it gathered during its investigations. This information was divided into categories reflecting the different types of human rights violations committed during the period under investigation. This database contributed greatly to the Commission’s work and in the preparation of its final report.

Following the categorization of the information in the database, the Commissioners analysed the available evidence in a manner that was objective and inclusive of all testimonies and statements. The Commission was assisted by its investigators as well as legal, medical, engineering and media experts.

The Commission worked to maintain the highest level of professionalism, transparency and independence in all aspects of its work.  This included investigating all human rights violations committed, beginning with deaths and allegations of torture, and ending with labour dismissals and student suspensions. In fulfilling these tasks, the Commission maintained the confidentiality of the testimonies and evidence collected.


Your Majesty,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to summarise the general observations and recommendations of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry:

1. The forceful confrontation of demonstrators involving the use of lethal force led to the death of civilians. This caused an increase in public anger, increased the number of persons participating in protests, and led to a palpable escalation in their demands.  As protests continued into mid-March 2011, the general state of security in Bahrain deteriorated considerably. Sectarian clashes were reported in a number of areas, attacks on expatriates took place, violent clashes occurred between students at the University of Bahrain and other educational institutions, and major thoroughfares were blocked by protesters. This situation led the government to declare a State of National Safety on 15 March 2011.

2. HM King Hamad approved that HRH the Crown Prince engage in negotiations with various political parties with a view to reaching a peaceful resolution to the unfolding situation in Bahrain.
Notwithstanding the best efforts of HRH the Crown Prince, negotiations to reach a political solution were not successful.  The Commission is of the view that if the initiative and proposals of HRH the Crown Prince had been accepted at the time it could have paved the way for significant constitutional, political and socio-economic reforms and precluded the ensuing negative consequences.

3. The Commission’s investigations revealed that during a substantial number of the arrests carried out by law enforcement agencies arrest warrants were not presented to arrested individuals and arrested individuals were not informed of the reasons for their arrest. In many cases, government security forces resorted to the use of unnecessary and excessive force, and in a manner that sought to terrorise
individuals, and to cause unnecessary damage to property.

4. The Commission’s investigations revealed that many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse while in custody, which indicated patterns of behaviour by certain government agencies, especially with regard to certain categories of detainees. The extent of this physical and psychological mistreatment is evidence of a deliberate practice, which in some cases was
aimed at extracting confessions and statements under duress, while in other cases was intended for the purpose of retribution and punishment.   The most common techniques for mistreatment used on detainees included the following: blindfolding; handcuffing; enforced standing for prolonged periods; beating; punching; hitting the detainee with rubber hoses (including on the soles of feet), cables, whips, metal, wooden planks or other objects; electrocution; sleep-deprivation; exposure to extreme temperatures; verbal abuse; threats of rape; and insulting the detainee‘s religious sect (Shia). Generally, these measures fall within the meaning of torture as defined in the Convention Against Torture (CAT), to which Bahrain is a State Party. They also constitute violations of the Bahrain Criminal Code.  These forced confessions have been used in criminal proceedings, either in the special courts established pursuant to the National Safety Decree or, in some cases, in the ordinary criminal courts.

5. The Commission is of the view that the lack of accountability of officials within the security system in Bahrain has led to a culture of impunity, whereby security officials have few incentives to avoid mistreatment of prisoners or to take action to prevent mistreatment by other officials.

6. It was evident to the Commission that government security forces, especially the Public Security Forces (PSF), violated the principles of necessity and proportionality while engaging with demonstrators, which are the generally applicable legal principles.

7. A large number of individuals were prosecuted before the National Safety Courts and imprisoned for violating articles 165, 168, 169, 179 and 180 of the Bahrain Penal Code. The text and application of these provisions raises questions about their conformity with international human rights law and the Constitution of Bahrain.

7. Numerous violations of due process rights were recorded by the Commission during proceedings before the National Safety Courts, which were composed of a presiding military judge and two civilian judges.

8. The manner in which the security and judicial agencies of the government of Bahrain interpreted the National Safety Decree opened the door for the perpetration of grave violations of human rights, including the arbitrary deprivation of life, torture and arbitrary detention. Detainees were kept for questioning for periods that, in some cases, extended to over two months during which they were neither brought before a judicial body or presented with any charges.  The lack of judicial supervision, oversight or inspection of detention facilities operated by these security agencies allowed for the perpetration of human rights violations.

9. Thirty-five deaths occurred between 14 February and 15 April 2011, which are linked to the events of February/March 2011. Thirty of the thirty-five deaths were civilians, while five were security personnel. Investigations were opened by the different security and military agencies concerned, but the Commission has reservations with regard to the effectiveness of some investigations which only included statements by security personnel.

10. Between 21 March and 15 April 2011, security forces systematically raided homes in order to arrest individuals, and in so doing, terrorised the occupants of these homes. These arrests were carried out by masked individuals during night and pre-dawn raids. These individuals intentionally broke down doors and forcibly entered homes. These practices were often accompanied by sectarian insults and verbal
abuse, and in some cases women were also exposed to such insults by security personnel.

Overall, the total number of persons arrested pursuant to Royal Decree No.18 of 2011 following the declaration of the State of National Safety was 2,929. Of those, 2,178 were released without any charges brought against them. The most prevalent charges made against persons brought before the National Safety Courts included:  incitement of hate against the regime, illegal assembly, rioting, possession of anti-government leaflets, possession of material calling for the overthrow of the regime, inciting others to violence, threatening a civil servant, use of violence against a government official, premeditated murder, kidnapping, attempted murder, aggravated assault, membership in an illegally established society, and spreading rumours that undermine public interest. The majority of these charges involved the
exercise of freedoms of opinion and expression that are guaranteed by the Bahrain Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

11. Many places of worship were demolished in the aftermath of the events of February/March 2011. Out of 30 places of worship inspected by the Commission, only five had complied with the requisite legal and administrative conditions. Nevertheless, the Commission notes with some concern the timing and method of these demolitions. The government should have realised that under the circumstances, and particularly the timing and manner of the demolitions, that these would be perceived as collective punishment and would therefore inflame existing tensions between the government and the Shiite population.

12. In the aftermath of the February/March 2011 events, over two thousand public sector employees and over 2400 private sector employees were dismissed for their participation in, or support of, the protest movement, and on the grounds that these protests were unrelated to labour issues.  The Commission, however, sees that the workers’ protests that occurred were within the permissible bounds of the law.

13. A large number of university students were expelled or suspended in connection with their role in the events of February and March.  The Commission finds that the universities applied arbitrary and unclear standards for issuing determinations and taking disciplinary action. The Commission welcomes, however, the move by the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the University of Bahrain and Bahrain Polytechnic, to reverse the vast majority of disciplinary action taken against students.

14. The Commission received sufficient evidence to support the finding that Sunnis were targeted by some demonstrators, either because they professed loyalty to the regime or on the basis of their sectarian identity. Sunnis were subjected to verbal abuse, physical attacks and attacks on their private property as well as harassment.

15. The Commission finds sufficient evidence to establish that some expatriates, particularly South Asian workers, were exposed to attacks during the February/March events. Pakistanis, in particular, were targeted. Because of the atmosphere of fear which prevailed, some foreign nationals were afraid to return to their work and commercial activities. The Commission found that four expatriates were killed and many were injured by mobs as a result of these attacks.

16. The evidence presented to the Commission in relation to the involvement of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the internal affairs of Bahrain did not reveal a discernible link between specific incidents that occurred in Bahrain during February/March 2011 and Iran.  In addition, the Commission has not found any evidence of human rights violations committed by the GCC-JSF units deployed in Bahrain, from  14 March 2011.

17. The Commission concluded that much of the material shown on national television contained derogatory language and inflammatory coverage of events, and some may have been defamatory. However, the Commission did not find evidence of media coverage that constituted hate speech.  The Commission also identified numerous examples of defamation, harassment and, in some cases, incitement through social media websites. Both pro- and anti-government journalists were targeted through social media channels.


Your Majesty,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Commission’s report is not limited to outlining, compiling, and analysing the human rights violations that occurred in Bahrain during the period under investigation. Rather, the Commission also submitted the following recommendations to the Government of Bahrain:

1. To establish an independent and impartial national committee that consists of personalities of high standing representing the government, opposition political societies, and civil society to follow up monitor and implement the recommendations of the Commission. This committee should re-examine the laws and procedures that were applied in the aftermath of the events of February and March 2011 in order to make recommendations to the legislature for the appropriate amendments to existing laws and to develop new legislation, in line with the recommendations of this Commission.

2. To establish a national independent and impartial mechanism to hold accountable those in government who have committed unlawful or negligent acts resulting in the deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians with a view to bringing legal and disciplinary action against such individuals, including those in positions of command, whether civilian or military, in accordance with the principle of superior responsibility.

3. To consider the Office of the Inspector General in the Ministry of Interior as a separate entity, independent of the Ministry‘s hierarchical control. The tasks of this office should include receiving complaints, and should protect the safety and privacy of complainants.

4. To amend the decree establishing the National Security Agency (NSA) in order to keep the organisation as an intelligence gathering agency without law enforcement or arrest authorities. Legislation should also be adopted to provide that the detention of individuals shall be governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure even during the application of a State of National Safety.

5. To adopt legislative measures requiring the Attorney General to investigate claims of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

6. To allow for the review of all convictions rendered by the National Security Courts where fundamental principles of a fair trial were not respected.

7. To conduct effective investigations in all cases of deaths attributed to security forces and identify those responsible for these deaths.  Likewise, all allegations of torture and similar treatment should be investigated by an independent and impartial body. In addition, a standing independent body to investigate all complaints of tortureor ill-treatment, excessive use of force or other abuses at the hands of the
authorities should be established.  The burden of proof to demonstrate that treatment complies with the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment should be on the state.

8. To implement an extensive program of public order training for the public security forces, the National Security Agency and the Bahrain Defence Force, including their private security companies, in accordance with UN best practices in order to ensure future compliance with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

9. To avoid detention without prompt access to lawyers and without access to the outside world, and, all cases of detention should be subject to effective monitoring by an independent body.

10. The Commission recommends that the government urgently establish, and implement vigorously, a programme for the integration into the security forces of personnel from all the communities in Bahrain.

11. To train the judiciary and prosecutorial personnel on the need to ensure that their activities contribute to the prevention and eradication of torture and ill-treatment.

12. To annul or mitigate convictions of persons charged with offences involving political expression that does not involve the incitement to violence, and to commute the death sentence for cases of murder arising out of the events of February/March 2011.

13. To compensate the families of the deceased victims in a manner that is commensurate with the gravity of their loss, and to compensate all victims of torture, ill-treatment, or prolonged incommunicado detention. In this respect, the Commission welcomes Royal Decree no. 30 of 2011 on the establishment of a compensation fund for victims, which was issued on 22 September 2011.

14.  To ensure that the remaining dismissed employees have not been dismissed on the basis of their right to exercise freedom of expression, opinion, association or assembly.

15. To consider relaxing censorship on mass media and to allow the opposition greater access to television broadcasts, radio broadcasts and print media.

16. To undertake appropriate measures including legislative measures to prevent incitement to violence, hatred, sectarianism and other forms of incitement, which lead to the violation of internationally protected human rights.

17. To develop educational programmes at the primary, secondary, and high school levels and at the university level to promote religious, political and other forms of tolerance, as well as the promotion of human rights and the rule of law. In general, the Commission also recommends that the Government of Bahrain develop a national reconciliation program that addresses the grievances of groups which are, or perceive themselves, to be deprived of equal political, social and economic rights and benefits across all segments of Bahrain‘s population.


Your Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,

Your Highnesses and Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, I must express my gratitude to all those who have worked at the Commission, including experts, investigators, assistants and administrators, who have left their homes and laboured for long hours for a full five months under the supervision of the Commissioners in order to prepare this report, which I consider to be a truly unprecedented accomplishment. This report was not limited to describing the events or their context and identifying those accountable for them, but also, in fulfilment of its mandate, analysed the constitutional, legal and administrative structures of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

I hope, Your Majesty, that the government will begin to place, without delay, a timetable for the implementation and follow up of the recommendations of this report.

Finally, Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

“And say, Work, and Allah will surely see your work and also His Messenger and the believers”.
(Surat Al-Thawba, 9:105)

May Allah the Almighty protect the Kingdom of Bahrain and its people, and honour the dignity and prosperity of its people.

23 11 2011

Statement on the work of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry

1. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) today, 23 November at 15:00, submitted its final report to His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa and, at 17:30, released it, in its entirety, to the public. The report has been issued in both print and electronically, and is available in whole via the Commission’s website:


The Establishment and Mandate of BICI:

2. The Commission was established pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 of 29 June 2011 to investigate human rights violations that occurred during the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March and related subsequent events.  The establishment of a national commission of inquiry comprised solely of non-nationals as commissioners at the initiative of a State to review interactions between government authorities and its citizens in a set of events is unprecedented.


3. The members of the Commission are: Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni (Chair), Dr. Badria A. Al-Awadhi, Dr. Mahnoush H. Arsanjani, Judge Philippe Kirsch Q.C. and
Professor Sir Nigel Rodley KBE.   The independence of the Commission was ensured by Royal Decree No. 28 of 2011 which guarantees that the Commission is wholly independent of any government.  The Commissioners served in their personal capacities and not as representatives of any government or other institution.  The Commission had full independence and control over all aspects of its work including the hiring and retention of its staff.

4. The Commission, under the terms of Article 1 of Royal Order No. 28, was given a wide-ranging mandate “to investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate.”  In addition to these general terms, the Commission was directed, under Article 9 of the Royal Order, to report on a number of specific matters, to include the following:

a) A complete narrative of the events that occurred during February and March, 2011;

b) The context for these events;

c) Whether during these events there have been violations of international human rights norms by any participants during the events or in the interaction between the public and the government;

d) A description of any acts of violence that have occurred including the nature of the acts, how they occurred, who the actors were and what consequences derived therefrom, in particular at the Salmaniya Hospital and the GCC Roundabout;

e) Instances of alleged police brutality and alleged violence by protestors and/or demonstrators against police and others, including foreigners;

f) The circumstances and appropriateness of arrests and detentions;

g) Examination of allegations of disappearances or torture;

h) Ascertain whether there was any media harassment, whether audiovisual or written, against participants in demonstrations and public protests;

i) Examination of alleged unlawful demolition of religious structures; and

j) Ascertain any involvement of foreign forces and foreign actors in the events.


5. The list in article 9 sets out matters related to conduct that, by its very nature, is undertaken by government and public officials.  Consequently, most Chapters of the Report and its findings and, in particular, its recommendations focus on the Government of Bahrain, the actions that its agencies have taken in the past and the steps
that it should take in the future.


6. The Commission was also invited to identify areas of law, administration and practice which should be considered for reform and to make recommendations to the Government in this regard.  Under Article 10 of Royal Order No. 28, the recommendations of the Commission also may extend to proposals for further national-level investigations and for prosecution of any person found to have committed violations of human rights.


7. The Commission received 8,110 complaints and statements alleging various human rights abuses relevant to its mandate: allegations of deaths, torture, verbal abuse, physical mistreatment, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, rape, misuse of authority and excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, coerced statements, unfair trial, denial of assistance of legal counsel, deprivation and destruction of private property, demolition of religious structures, expulsion or suspension of students and revocation of their scholarships, dismissal or suspension of employees from public and private sectors, restriction on free speech and assembly, media harassment, and travel bans.  The allegations received by the Commission included violations by public authorities as well as by some private and groups against another group.


Structure of the Report

8. The report of the Commission is divided into the following 12 Chapters:


Chapter I.        Introduction

Chapter II.      Historical Background

Chapter III.     Relevant Aspects of the Legal System and Description of the Enforcement Structures

Chapter IV.     Narrative of Events of February and March 2011

Chapter V.      Events at Salmaniya Medical Complex

Chapter VI.     Allegations of Human Rights Violations Against the Person

A.        Deaths Arising out of the Events

B.        Use of Force by Government Actors

C.        Manner of Arrests

D.        Treatment of Persons in Custody

E.         Detention and Prosecution in Connection with Expression, Association and Assembly

F.         Allegation of Enforced Disappearances

Chapter VII.   Other Human Rights Issues

A.        Demolition of Religious Structures

B.        Terminations of Public and Private Sector Employment

C.        Dismissals of Students and Suspension of Scholarships

Chapter VIII.  Allegations of Violence by Non-Governmental Actors

A.        Attacks on Expatriates

B.        Attacks on Sunni Community

Chapter IX.     Allegations of Involvement by Foreign Forces and Foreign Actors

Chapter X.      Allegations of Media Harassment

Chapter XI.     Measures and Remedies Undertaken by the Government

Chapter XII.   General Observations and Recommendations


Content of the Report

 9. Each Chapter and Section of the Report dealing with specific categories of events concludes with findings as well as specific recommendations pertaining to the subject matter covered therein. This organization should not obscure the fact that the Report is a comprehensive and integrated text that should be read in its entirety. The general observations, findings and conclusions, and general recommendations at the end of the report should be viewed in connection with the specific findings and conclusions and recommendations contained in each Chapter and Section.


10. Chapter I describes the organizational and operational aspects of the work of the Commission.  A brief historical background of Bahrain has been provided in Chapter II.  This Chapter describes, among others, economic and social issues; religious and sectarian composition and political activities. Chapter III presents an overall view of the relevant aspects of the legal system of Bahrain and its enforcement structure.  It also describes the relevant international law obligations of Bahrain and those parts of its national law applicable to the events of February/March.  This Chapter deals with the scope and content of Royal Decree No. 18 of 2011 on the declaration of a State of National Safety and the manner by which it was implemented.  Chapter IV of the Report provides a day by day narrative of the events that took place in February and March 2011, followed by the Commission’s general observations on how events evolved and escalated, followed, in turn, by the initiative of HRH the Crown Prince to find a negotiated resolution of problems. Chapters II and IV provide a general context in which the events of February/March should be examined and understood.  However, issues discussed in every Chapter should be viewed in the context specific to the event addressed therein in addition to the general context of the events.


11. Chapters VI to X address allegations of violations made against public authorities or against individuals or groups.  Each Chapter is divided into various sections and each of which provides a factual background to the situation and the allegations made, followed by a description of applicable specific international and national law and the findings and conclusions of the Commission.  Where the Commission is in a position to make specific recommendations, it does so under each section.


12. Chapters VI  and VII deal with allegations of violations by public authorities. Chapter VI deals with human rights violations against the person.  This Chapter deals with allegations of violations committed by public authorities, such as arbitrary death, use of force by government, manner by which arrests were made, treatment of detainees
while in custody; prosecution in connection with the exercise of the right to free expression, association and assembly, and enforced disappearance.  Chapter VII addresses other human rights issues, such as demolition of religious structures, termination or suspension of employment of employees in the private and public sector and dismissal or suspension of students and revocation of their scholarship.


13. Chapter VIII deals with allegations of violence by non-governmental actors.  It addresses complaints of attacks against expatriates and attacks against the Sunni


14. Chapter IX addresses the allegations with respect to involvements of foreign forces and actors.  Chapter X deals with allegations of media harassment.  It addresses allegations of harassment and defamation of pro- and anti-government journalists, bias on the part of State-controlled media, censorship and social media.


15. Chapter XI takes stock of measures taken by government to address some of the issues raised with regard to the events of February/March and its related consequences.


16. The final Chapter, Chapter XII, provides a summary and an overview of the Commission’s observations and an overview of recommendations.  Those recommendations
address general and structural issues relating to due process, independent and impartial supervisory bodies to deal with violations by governmental authorities and training for security forces. The Commission’s recommendations also include effective investigation into violations by government authority with respect to torture and similar ill-treatment and excessive and disproportionate use of force, in particular lethal or potentially lethal force, against civilians, capable of leading to the prosecution of the implicated individuals, both direct and at all levels of responsibility, with a view to ensuring that punishment be consistent with the gravity of the offence. The Commission also recommended to the Government the development of a national reconciliation programme that addresses the grievances of groups which are, or perceive themselves, to be deprived of equal political, social and economic rights and benefits across all segments of Bahrain’s population. The Commission has further recommended that compensation and reparation should be provided to the families of the deceased, victims of torture, ill-treatment or prolonged incommunicado detention.

17. Recommendations of the Commission on specific issues appear at the end of each Chapter, or Section.  The more general recommendations of the Commission and illustrative recommendations on particular issues are included in Chapter XII.

18. The Commission wishes to express appreciation for the cooperation it has received in the performance of its mandate from the Government of Bahrain, various political, religious and human rights organizations and the individual victims who approached the Commission.  Without the assistance and cooperation of these authorities, groups and individuals, the Commission would have faced almost insuperable obstacles to the discharge of its mandate.

20 10 2011

BICI Report Submission

Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Chairman of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was received on 18 October 2011 by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to discuss the status of the BICI report.

Professor Bassiouni briefed His Majesty on the developments relating to the work of the Commission, which included investigations into thousands of complaints filed by Bahraini citizens and foreign nationals. The Commission Chairperson informed His Majesty that approximately 9000 written complaints were received by the BICI from both citizens and foreign residents who claimed to be victims of human rights violations. Moreover, the BICI conducted over 5000 personal interviews with individual complainants at the Commission’s offices during which allegations of human rights violations against those individuals and their families were investigated.

The Chairperson noted that the BICI maintains a relationship of constructive cooperation with a number of influential actors on the Bahraini scene. As part of this cooperation, which the BICI deeply appreciates, a large amount of information, testimony, and complaints has been received from political societies, human rights activists, and civil society institutions. This information has assisted the BICI in identifying the nature of the human rights violations that occurred during the events of February and March 2011 and related subsequent events. To this day, the BICI continues to receive information from these non-governmental sources to which the Commission attaches great importance as it sheds light on the events under investigation and their consequences.

The BICI is still awaiting responses from various ministries and government agencies to its enquiries regarding the role of each of these institutions during the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March 2011 and related subsequent events. This is in line with the Commission’s examination of the policies and practices of these agencies during the events under investigation, which aims to establish whether these governmental institutions and their agents upheld the rule of law and respected international human rights law. BICI expressed its appreciation for the cooperation of government agencies, which have contributed to providing considerable information of relevance to the events under investigation by the Commission.

In light of the above, particularly the substantial number of testimonies presented by Bahraini citizens and foreign nationals, and the large amount of information presented to the BICI from political activists, civil society organizations, and governmental agencies, all of which are, to this day, providing the Commission with more information, the BICI concluded that it required more time to complete its investigative activities. This is to ensure that every testimony, complaint, and item of evidence is considered and examined, which will enable the Commission to prepare a final report that establishes the facts about what occurred in Bahrain during February and March 2011.

Therefore, the BICI requested that His Majesty King Hamad consider extending the mandate of the Commission for a brief period to enable it to complete its final report. His Majesty the King of Bahrain graciously approved an extension of the Commission’s mandate, which is now due to submit its final report on 23 November 2011.

Further, the Chairman advised His Majesty that all physical documents – statements and complaints submitted by Bahraini citizens and foreign residents – would be destroyed at the time of the submission of the final report to protect the confidentiality, security and privacy of all complainants and their testimonies. An electronic copy of all these documents shall be preserved at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague for a period of ten years, after which these records will be destroyed by the PCA. No copies or physical evidence of the record of the BICI files will be maintained thereafter.

Until the submission of its final report, the BICI will maintain its policy of abstaining from media interviews. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that nothing about the substantive work of the Commission, in particular its findings and recommendations, be made public before the submission of the final report.

Lastly, the BICI has decided not to respond to media allegations against either the Commission or its staff as the BICI continues to execute its mandate to a high degree of professionalism. The final report will be based on extensive research and investigations that will establish – in an impartial manner – the facts related to the events that occurred during February and March 2011 and related subsequent events.

01 10 2011

End of interviews

Yesterday, Friday 30th September, was the last day for interviews by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). Although no further interviews will be conducted, complaints and testimonies, which include copies of corroborating evidence and a copy of the complainant’s ID, will be accepted if sent via email to: All such correspondence will be examined and reviewed in accordance with the BICI mandate.

The BICI would like to extend its deep thanks and appreciation to all those who cooperated with its team, sharing their testimonies, information, photographs and videos. During the next four weeks, the BICI report will be developed in order to submit to HM King Hamad on 30th October.
28 09 2011

Dr Crosby’s review of hunger strikes in Bahrain

This month, Dr Sondra Crosby, international expert on hunger strikes, joined the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to review the state of the hunger strikes in Bahrain’s prisons. Motivated on humanitarian grounds, the BICI felt it important to evaluate the hunger strikers and their needs although this is not an integral part of the fact-finding mission underway.

As a result of Dr Crosby’s findings and due to the significant lack of awareness of hunger striking, the BICI highlights in the  following information some key parameters and issues. A report has been issued to the Bahrain Ministry of Health including Dr Crosby’s recommendations and it is worthwhile noting that following her evaluations and recommendations, a number of hunger strikers have decided to end their strike.

1. Definitions

Hunger strikes are a method for voicing grievances and alerting different publics to a cause, which is important to the individual hunger striker. Hunger strikes invariably occur when the individual in question feels that there are limited or no alternatives for the resolution of his/her grievances. As such, a hunger striker may be willing to place his health, and perhaps his life at risk, to bring grievances or injustices to the attention of authorities and to the world at large in order to produce change in a situation.

Hunger strikes encompass a broad array of situations, although all include some form of “food refusal” as a protest tool.  It is important to note that hunger strikers are not suicidal, and do not strike with the intention of dying, although a minority of strikers may accept death as an outcome.  For the most part, hunger strikers want to improve the state of the world for themselves and others and strike as a last resort – when it is felt that no other effective mechanism for protest is possible.

Hunger strikes take different forms of severity, but it is important to realize that any form of hunger strike can be detrimental to health.   A “dry” hunger strike in which the striker refuses both food and water is rare because death would occur swiftly and this would not allow the hunger striker to achieve his goals.  “Total fasting” generally means the striker is only consuming water, but this type of hunger strike may include the intake of minerals, sugar or vitamins and it is recommended that hunger strikers take in approximately 2 liters of water on a daily basis.

Other forms of hunger striking include the allowance for carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, or other supplements in varying quantities.  It is important for the supervising doctor to know the exact intake of each hunger striker so he can continuously monitor and assess the hunger striker’s health and provide him with relevant information for his wellbeing. In this regard, it is also important to realize that the ingestion of small amounts of calories by the hunger striker does not “negate” the hunger strike, and in fact may only prolong the course while resulting in the same serious health effects.

2. Conditions

The health risks associated with hunger strikes vary as they depend on the individual’s age, pre-existing medical conditions, water and other intake, amount of weight lost, and the duration of the strike.

Any type of hunger strike can be detrimental to one’s health. Thus, it is important for hunger strikers to be receiving care and advice from an attending physician.  Each hunger striker should have access to a trusted doctor, whose first priority is to care for the hunger striker.  It is important for the doctor and patient to maintain a constant line of communication.

Sometimes hunger strikers may feel coerced or pressurized by other inmates to participate in a hunger strike, or to continue a strike even if they wish to stop. The physician must determine if the hungers striker is being coerced by any forces from either inside or outside the prison, and take measures to diffuse these pressures. Allowing access to family members may help ameliorate peer pressure and provide support.

The dignity of hunger strikers should be respected at all times; they should not be punished or coerced to end the strike.

3. Contraindications

Both a thorough physical and psychological evaluation at the beginning of the strike is important so that the physician can assess potential health risks to the individual hunger striker. Any underlying health problems are likely to be made worse by fasting, and some underlying conditions, such as diabetes, will make fasting very dangerous, even life threatening, early on in the strike.

It may be discovered that some people need treatment for psychological disorders such as depression, and the possibility that psychological disorders may be influencing the decision to hunger strike must be considered.  If a hunger striker is suffering from depression or other illness possibly as a result of torture or inhumane treatment, they require immediate psychological evaluation and treatment.

4. Complications

It is important to understand the medical sequence of events that occur when someone fasts, including that if the hunger striker is ingesting only water, death will occur between 55 and 75 days into the strike.  Young healthy people can usually do well for about 4 weeks before serious medical complications begin to take place.  If other nutrients are ingested, this timeline can be extended, although not predicted with accuracy.

Medical monitoring should begin at a weight loss of 10% of initial body weight.  Serious problems can occur at a weight loss of 18% of initial body weight, and the situation becomes life threatening when more than 30% of initial or ideal body weight is

In addition, an understanding of the expected sequence of symptoms that will develop when on a hunger strike is crucial:

a)      Initially, for the first 3-7 days, the healthy adult hunger striker will feel reasonably normal, as long as adequate water (2 liters) is ingested. Feelings of hunger abate after the second or third day.

b)     Shortly thereafter, the striker will begin to experience symptoms of dizziness, fatigue and weakness when it might even be difficult to stand.

c)      After the first few weeks, the hunger striker will likely develop a sensation of feeling cold, and abdominal pain is common.

d)     During the latter part of the first month, mental lethargy and irritability will develop.

e)     By the 4th week, hospitalization may be necessary.

f)      Between 4-5 weeks, if the hunger striker is not taking vitamins, double vision, severe vertigo, vomiting and difficulty swallowing will occur due to nerve damage.  This phase of the hunger strike is described as extremely unpleasant by those who have survived prolonged fasting.

g)     From about 40 days onward, progressive confusion, incoherence, loss of hearing, blindness, and bleeding may occur.  Death eventually occurs from cardiovascular collapse and heart arrhythmias.

h)     Other complications of malnutrition include kidney, liver, immune, and cardiac dysfunction. Wound healing is impaired and susceptibility to infection is increased throughout the duration of the hunger strike.

5. Children

Children are especially vulnerable to the complications associated with fasting which are described above.   In addition, malnutrition can interfere with growth and bone development and can irreversibly impair neurological development, which includes brain damage. Children should not be encouraged to hunger strike.  They do not have the decision making ability to evaluate and process the consequences of a hunger strike, and thus cannot make an informed decision to strike. All young and teenage hunger strikers should be provided with additional psychological and medical support from clinicians trained to care for adolescents.

6. After-care

When starting to eat after fasting, food consumption must be done slowly to avoid what is termed the “re-feeding syndrome.” Re-feeding after a period of fasting can precipitate a number of potentially lethal metabolic and physiologic complications caused by electrolyte and fluid shifts resulting in cardiac, respiratory, and neuromuscular abnormalities. Thus, when the hunger striker begins to eat after a period of prolonged fasting, he should be under a physician’s supervision and monitoring.

The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”. Its report is scheduled to be delivered on 30th October to HM King Hamad and will be made public in its entirety.

Fact Sheet

26 09 2011

Over 5500 interviews conducted by BICI

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has conducted 5549 interviews to date and received 8818 complaints in total since its establishment and the beginning of its investigation on 20th July 2011.

Composed of five leading, non-Bahraini, international Commissioners who are experts in international law as well as international human rights law, the BICI investigative team is also made up of important legal practitioners and human rights advocates. In order to maintain the neutrality and independence of the team and its investigations, none of those employed are Bahraini or affiliated with any local organization or society, which is a party to the conflict and unrest in Bahrain since February/March 2011.

Despite the various statements by local activists to the contrary, the BICI would like to assure Bahrainis that every member of the investigative and administrative teams was carefully chosen and that although a small number of Bahrainis are employed for
administration and outreach purposes, they too have been subject to a rigorous selection process. The confidentiality of all our witnesses is respected and maintained upon individual request.

Interviews will continue until 30th September when the BICI will begin to collate all its conclusions for the development of its final report, which is due to be presented and published on 30th October. In the meantime, written complaints are still being accepted via email:, the details for which are available on our website. It is expected that up to 500 further interviews will  be conducted by the investigating team in the coming days.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established on 29th June 2011 in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”.

24 09 2011

Office closure due to traffic disruption

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has closed its offices today – Saturday, 24th September, due to traffic disruptions and inability of its staff to travel to and fro. All appointments scheduled for today will be moved to another day and all parties contacted in this regard. The BICI apologises for any inconvenience caused.

21 09 2011

BICI investigation into the demolition of places of worship

International engineering expert, Ismail Hazem has now completed his investigation as part of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) team examining the demolition of places of worship in Bahrain since February/March 2011.

An architect with extensive experience in conflict zones, Hazem was brought in by the BICI to examine the sites of destroyed or damaged mosques and religious buildings as part of the BICI mandate to investigate the events of February/March 2011 and their consequences. During his stay, he visited the sites of 30 mosques in various  locations including Nuwaidrat, Hamad Town and Sitra.

Accompanied by a member of the investigating team, Hazem met with the mosque leaders as well as officials from the Jaafari Religious Endowments Council and Ministry of Municipalities and Urban Planning. His report should be issued in the coming weeks to supplement the final BICI report which is due to be presented and issued on 30th October to the public at large.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established on 29th June 2011 in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”.

10 09 2011

The Process for Complaints after 9th September

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) would like to sincerely thank all those who came forward since the establishment of the Commission to record their complaints. As of Friday, 9th September, the BICI is no longer accepting phone calls to set up appointments with its investigators. The BICI is expecting to meet with over 2000 people, amongst whom are victims and witnesses of the February/March 2011 unrest and their consequences in the ensuing period until 30th September 2011 – the final date for such interviews.

However, the BICI is looking forward to receiving further written complaints submitted by email at:, in continuation of the BICI mandate and interest in hearing all parties. Complaints will only be accepted if the following documents are included:

  1. The relevant complaints form is used to record the violation, which is available from the Commission website:;
  2. A scan of the complainant’s identification card and the accurate inclusion of their CPR number;
  3. Scanned copies of all supportive documents to the complaint;
  4. If possible, more than one contact number in order to allow the investigator to contact the complainant, should further information be required.

The BICI team has exerted their utmost efforts in the collection of the maximum amount of complaints possible and in the record of human rights violations. As a result, the BICI would like to remind respondents to cooperate with the Commission and fulfill the requirements outlined for complaints to be accepted in order to allow the BICI to complete its work in the best manner possible.

07 09 2011

Another international expert to join the BICI team

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has invited Dr Sondra Crosby a very distinguished international expert on hunger strikes to join its team in Bahrain in order to evaluate the prisoners currently on hunger strike.

Prisoners’ health will be examined and the status of their medical condition evaluated over the coming days. The expert will visit the 84 prisoners on hunger strike in Dry Docks prison as well as the 17 detainees hospitalised by the Ministry of Interior for their refusal to eat and the deterioration in their general condition. Medical advice will be provided and the expert will discuss the challenges of hunger strike with those who started it 9 days ago.

Beyond the fact-finding mission of the BICI, this move has been instigated on humanitarian grounds due to the deep concern of the BICI with the plight of the prisoners and detainees who are on hunger strike.

The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”. Its report is scheduled to be  delivered on 30th October to HM King Hamad and will be made public in its entirety.

06 09 2011

BICI reminder to journalists

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) would like to remind all reporters, editors, producers, bloggers, photo-journalists and anyone working in the journalism sector who has been subject to any human rights violations, termination of employment and/or harassment or sanction based on their work, to come forward with their complaints for documentation by Friday, 9th September in order to file their complaints.

It is imperative that the BICI is contacted as soon as possible in this regard. Forms to register complaints are available online at: and the Commission can be reached on any of its five hotlines to set up appointments. Please be sure to identify yourself as a journalist when making the appointment.

The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”. Its report is scheduled to be delivered on 30th October to HM King Hamad and will be made public in its entirety.

03 09 2011

Deadline for scheduling of interviews

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) urges individuals and societies with complaints which fall under the Commission’s fact-finding mandate to schedule interviews with its investigating team over the next week, until Thursday 8th September.

The BICI has hired four more investigators to augment its current team in order to accommodate further complaints which fall under its mandate of investigating human rights violations in Bahrain since the events of February and March 2011. Between them, the new investigators are expected to interview 1000 people and the BICI would like to remind interested parties of the deadline of 30th September and the importance of contacting the Commission by 8th September through the allocated hotlines in order to schedule an interview.

Appointments can be made by phoning any of the following five hotlines: +973 3655 5017, +973 3655 5018, +973 3647 9024, +973 3640 5265 and +973 3640 5270. In addition, it should be noted that with the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, working hours of the Commission are now 0900-1500 and 1700-2000.

The final report is due to be submitted on 30th October to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and will be made public in its entirety. The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”.

27 08 2011

Procedure for meetings

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) would like to reiterate that, contrary to rumours across social media channels including Twitter, it is no longer accepting walk-ins or spontaneous meetings with groups sent by any organisation or company. As an example, despite online messages in circulation, the BICI is not meeting with University of Bahrain students on Sunday and there has been no such invitation. All complaints should be submitted by email. Forms are available online at our website: where they can be downloaded according to the different categories listed. All complaints should be sent to

26 08 2011

Last date for Submissions

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) announced today, 26th August 2011, that the final date for the submission of complaints will be 30th September 2011. Thus far, in excess of 5200 complaints have been received by the BICI, all of which are being examined and cases investigated according to the Commission mandate. The final report is due to be submitted on 30th October to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and will be made public in its entirety.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established on 29th June 2011 in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”.


20 08 2011

BICI Reiterates Position on Recent Events

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has been following the information being circulated about its work and the statements attributed to its Chairperson Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni in the local Bahraini and international press. Because this information is either inaccurate or baseless, the BICI is compelled to issue the following statement.

The BICI denies the report being circulated on some electronic social media platforms that its Chairperson or any of its members have resigned their positions. All the members of the Commission continue to discharge their duties. The Commissioners are studying and analyzing the increasingly large amounts of evidence being gathered by its investigators for the preparation of BICI’s final report due on October 30th 2011.

In accordance with its mandate, the BICI since its establishment has been making every effort to investigate complaints in connection with the disturbances that occurred in Bahrain in February and March 2011 and in that regard to collect evidence and testimonies.  The BICI investigators have conducted numerous field visits and interviews to collect information from a variety of sources. These have included visits to 6 police stations and detention facilities, and visits to 6 hospitals. The BICI investigators conducted over 250 personal interviews with citizens during these field visits. In addition, staff members have met with over 670 persons at the BICI Headquarters in Manama to record their testimony about the events of February/March 2011. Moreover, the BICI has received over 2500 ommunications and complaints via email, regular mail, and recorded videos pertaining to the time period under investigation. Staff members have also met with families of persons who were killed during the confrontations and demonstrations that occurred in Bahrain to record their testimonies.

BICI has also received communications from and held meetings with representatives of workers unions, students dismissed from university, civil society organizations, and political activists, as well as with officials from the various  government agencies.

BICI was and remains committed to collecting evidence from the broadest possible sources. The BICI, therefore, continues to welcome information from all persons in Bahrain. The Commission remains open to schedule personal meetings with individuals to record their testimony about the events of February/March 2011.

The Chairperson of BICI wishes to clarify that, contrary to information relayed by some news media outlets, he did not issue any statements on the outcome of the Commission’s investigations. The Chairperson’s recent interview with a Bahraini local newspaper was misrepresented. Professor Bassiouni’s comments were limited to clarifying the differences between various categories of crimes and violations of international law. Nothing in the Chairpersons comments prejudices the work of the Commission or its investigations. The findings and conclusions reached by BICI will appear in its final report.

The Commission and its staff also wish to express their gratitude to the many persons who have, over the past few days, sent messages of support to BICI and expressed their confidence in its work. We are also grateful to all the Bahraini citizens who have come forward in the past weeks with information and complaints. We reaffirm to the people of Bahrain, civic organizations, political opposition, and the government that we are committed to the completion of our mission.

The BICI affirms that it is undertaking its mission with the utmost professionalism and political neutrality

15 08 2011

Bahrain Commission of Inquiry Statement on events at their offices

In light of recent allegations that the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has reached a determination on its investigation, as well as verbal and physical attacks on its staff, the BICI wishes to make the following statement.

Despite misleading headlines in recent news articles claiming that the Commission has determined that the government of Bahrain committed no crimes against humanity during the demonstrations that have occurred over the last several months, the Commission would like to clarify that it has not made any such determination. The Commission’s investigation is ongoing and will continue until all relevant evidence has been gathered. Its staff is still in the process of interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting evidence, and evaluating the circumstances. The Commission will not make a determination as to the extent of human rights abuses in Bahrain until its investigation is complete. Because certain media outlets and activists have misrepresented the comments of the Commission Chair, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, in order to support their political positions, for the time being, the Commission will no longer entertain interviews to the media. Should the Commission decide that a public statement is necessary, it will provide this information on its website, The Commission will not allow itself to be used as a political tool for any group.

Additionally, the Commission’s office is hereby closed until further notice. This is due to the fact that today, hundreds of people forced their way into our office, having been angered over what they believed to be the Commission Chair’s “conclusions” on the investigation, and additionally having been directed by activists on Twitter and through mass texts to come to the office to report their complaints. The Commission believes its doors should be open to anyone who wishes to come forward and provide information on human rights abuses. However, as we have advised on our website and on Twitter, appointments must be made in order for our investigators to best serve the witnesses and victims. After attempting to accommodate the crowd by offering to take down their information in order to schedule appointments, some in the crowd became restless and verbally and physically threatened the staff. Individuals yelled insults, posted threatening messages on the office walls, sent threats via text and email, and even physically shoved and spat at a member of staff. Individuals also continued to photograph and video record people in the office, despite advice from staff that such actions undermine the confidentiality and safety of the many witnesses and victims coming forward. While the Commission’s staff is committed to conducting its investigation, it will not jeopardize the security of the individuals that work at and patron the office. While the office remains closed, investigators will continue to accept statements submitted by email.

The Commission is concerned about the attacks upon the integrity of its Commissioners and staff. Its Commissioners are comprised of the foremost international criminal law and human rights experts. To learn more about their backgrounds, please visit our website. Similarly, the Commission’s staff is comprised of international judges, human rights lawyers and advocates who have established reputations in their fields. The staff has worked tirelessly to hear evidence from all witnesses and victims who have contacted the Commission to tell their story, including by visiting prisons, hospitals and demonstration sites, as well as by staying at the office until well past midnight in order to accommodate the high volume of interview requests.

The Commission remains committed to its mission to investigate the events in February and March. We would like to assure the public that none of its staff have resigned as a result of recent events. Though our office is temporarily closed, the work will continue. Our staff will continue its investigation and will issue a report with recommendations as scheduled, as per our mandate. We ask the people, organizations, institutions and government of Bahrain for their cooperation in making this investigation a fair and successful one. As the Commission continues its work, anyone who would like to reach us may contact us by email at

10 08 2011

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Statement

In view of the fact that certain statements made by chairman of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (“BICI”) have been interpreted as prejudging the outcome of the Inquiry, the BICI has decided to issue the following statement on how it has worked, will continue to work, and determine the contents of its report.

1. The BICI is still at the beginning of its investigations. It has not reached any final conclusions. Its work continues to be independent and free from any interference, either by the government of Bahrain, any other government, or any interest group, either within or outside of Bahrain. The BICI hires its own staff, conducts its own investigations, has its own budget, and acts in every respect as an independent commission.

2. In carrying out its responsibilities, the BICI has so far met with a number of government officials, as well as opposition leaders, representatives of civic organizations, and individual victims and witnesses. It has conducted unscheduled visits to several detention and prison facilities, as well as police stations, and its investigators have spoken to detained individuals outside the presence of any public official. It has also reviewed arrest and conviction records.

In the short period since July 24, the BICI has:

  • Met with over 200 persons in prisons and detention facilities and injured persons in hospitals; 50 senior government officials, including several members of cabinet; 18 opposition parties and civil society organizations; 90 students who have been suspended from their studies; and 105 persons who have been arbitrarily dismissed from their work positions.
  • Received 300 complaints from dismissed employees.
  • Recorded 140 allegations of physical abuse and torture in prisons and police stations.
  • Secured the release of 151 persons from prisons or detention facilities. This number includes 137 persons who were charged with misdemeanors and were pending trial. These cases were transferred from the military court system to the civilian court system by a Royal Order at the request of the BICI chairman.
  • Instigated an investigation by the Ministry of Interior into 2 police officers and 10 police personnel charged with physical abuse and torture.
  • Received statements from 348 witnesses and victims of alleged arbitrary arrest and detention, physical abuse, and torture.
  • Received over 900 emails, many of them containing information about events, and alleged victimization, either by the sender or claimed to be known by the sender.

3. All of the above has been done in cooperation with individual witnesses and victims, representatives of political opposition groups and civil society organizations, and the government. The BICI wishes to acknowledge with appreciation the hundreds of victims and witnesses who have come forward with their information. In addition, the BICI wishes to reassure them and others of the safety and privacy of these communications. We have taken and will continue to take all possible measures to safeguard the confidentiality of all information received, and we sincerely believe that there is no reason for anyone to believe otherwise.

4. It is important for anyone following the work of the BICI to know that while all of what is described above is taking place, there can be no final conclusions that can be derived therefrom. Conclusions and recommendations will occur after investigations are complete, and a more complete record is established. As of now, it can be stated that the BICI has had the cooperation of witnesses and victims, civil society organizations, opposition groups, and the government. The chairman of the BICI has publicly credited the Ministry of Interior, National Security Agency, the Attorney General, and the Military Prosecutor General for their cooperation, and it is only fair to do so. This should not be interpreted by anyone as covering up or overlooking the responsibility of any organization or any person for any illegal act. The BICI will continue to gather evidence and the conclusions in its report will be based on that evidence, in whatever direction it may lead and at any and all levels of responsibility.

5. We look forward to the continued cooperation of all parties concerned, and we hope that the heightened level of anxiety that exists in Bahrain society, and particularly with respect to the victims and families of victims of those who have been arrested, detained, tried and convicted, physically mistreated and tortured, does not carry them to any unfounded conclusions or judgments on the BICI and its work. We remain committed to the truth, and to continuing our work on the basis of impartiality, fairness, and neutrality.

09 08 2011

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.”

25 07 2011

BICI Hold Public Event at Bahrain National Museum

The Bahrain Independent Commission held a public meeting at the Bahrain National Museum on 24th July, attended by members of Bahrain’s political and civic societies in addition to representatives of NGOs, detainees and the expatriate community. After a brief introduction by Prof Cherif Bassiouni, the Commission Chairman, the Commissioners proceeded to answer questions from the audience. Methods of communication were clearly outlined and participants encouraged to contact the Commission through the website for appointments and enquiries. Different concerns were aired about the methods of investigation, confidentiality, mandate and possible results of the report.

The Commissioners reassured participants of the expertise of the investigative team involved and relayed some of their international experience. Prof Bassiouni also explained that the identities of individual testimonies would not be revealed and that security measures had been taken to ensure confidentiality and secrecy. Moreover, it was reiterated that all human rights violations would be examined and that the final report would make recommendations to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The report will be made public at the same time.

23 07 2011

Commissioners Arrive in Bahrain

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Commissioners, Professor Bassiouni (Chairman), Judge Philippe Kirsch of Canada and Belgium, Professor Sir Nigel Rodley of the United Kingdom, Dr. Mahnoush Arsanjani of Iran, and Dr. Badria Al-Awadhi of Kuwait have just arrived in Bahrain and will be holding the BICI’s first introductory meeting at the Bahrain National Museum on 24 July to which members of Bahrain’s political and civic societies have been invited.

The meeting will take place between 2.30 and 4pm. The BICI has invited various national groups representing civil society to attend and has endeavoured to ensure that a wide spectrum of Bahrain’s society is represented. Capacity at this event is limited to 300 seats. Members of the public wishing to attend this meeting are requested to write to the Commission via email: Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

“I am pleased to be joined by my fellow Commissioners here in Bahrain. At this meeting, we shall explain what the Commission is about – its mandate and procedures and answer questions,” said Professor Bassiouni.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established on 29 June 2011, in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The BICI is mandated to “investigate and report on the events occurring in Bahrain in February/March 2011, and any subsequent consequences arising out of the aforementioned events, and to make such recommendations as it may deem appropriate”.

21 07 2011

Commissioners to meet with members of public

On 24th July 2011 the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) will hold a public forum to be followed by a press conference at the Bahrain National Museum.

Headed by Prof M. Cherif Bassiouni, the BICI Commissioners will meet with members of Bahrain’s different civic and political associations in a public forum in which invited parties will be encouraged to voice their concerns. This will be the first of such public events to be held in the coming months and will be attended by the Commissioners, appointed by the Chairman, Prof Bassiouni. The other four Commissioners are Judge Philippe Kirsch of Canada and Belgium, Professor Sir Nigel Simon Rodley KBE of the United Kingdom, Dr. Mahnoush Arsanjani of Iran, and Dr. Badria Al-Awadhi of Kuwait.

“I’m pleased to be back in Bahrain alongside a carefully-selected team and am looking forward to the prospect of starting our investigations.” said Prof Bassiouni. “The public forum will seek to represent as many sectors of society as possible and will be the first of similar initiatives… We cannot hear all sides and all perspectives at once, but we will certainly try to do so from now till October,” he continued.

The BICI website will also be launched on 24th July, enabling the public to easily access information about the commission, the dates for hearings and submission details.

29 06 2011

Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Established

An independent Commission of Inquiry has been established on 29 June 2011 in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The Commission has been tasked with investigating and reporting on the events that took place in Bahrain in February and March 2011, and the consequences of the aforementioned events.

To ensure the independence of the Commission of Inquiry, the Royal Order has appointed five, eminent, non-Bahraini individuals who have expertise in the fields of international law and international human rights law to act as commissioners. Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, holding both Egyptian and American nationalities, has been named the Chair of the Commission. The other four commissioners are: Judge Phillipe Kirsch of Canada and Belgium, Professor Sir Nigel Simon Rodley KBE of the United Kingdom, Dr. Mahnoush Arsanjani of Iran, and Dr. Badria Al-Awadhi of Kuwait.