16 Jan 2012 Gulf Daily news
Senior government officials responsible for human rights violations during the unrest will be held to account, it has been pledged. The National Commission is already following up the issue with the authorities, which has seen prosecutors investigate 107 cases involving death, alleged torture or mistreatment of people during the unrest.
Forty-eight law enforcement officers have also been questioned as a result.
The commission was set up last month to ensure the implementation of recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
Commission chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh yesterday said more cases involving law enforcement officers, other than those already being investigated, were being followed up.
"There are others and we are following up with the government what it will do in this regard, in line with the BICI recommendation to hold everyone accountable even those in senior ranks," he said.
"We have a legal issue and we are trying to get opinion of international experts on it, and that's the BICI recommendation to have an independent and neutral mechanism to prosecute senior government officials, civilians or military.
"The commission doesn't have clear standards on what "senior" refers to and it has to be clarified for us to understand limits and where we can stretch according to international standards."
Mr Al Saleh, who is also Shura Council chairman, was speaking during a Press conference at the National Assembly complex in Gudaibiya.
He revealed two legal experts had been hired to draw up a method in which an independent body would examine all complaints about torture or ill-treatment, excessive use of force or other abuses at the hands of the authorities.
"We are waiting for those methods to be drawn for this body to start work and provide assistance to those affected in line with the BICI recommendation," said Mr Al Saleh.
The commission also backed plans to establish a fund to compensate people affected by the unrest, but is waiting for a special decree to organise its work.
Meanwhile, Mr Al Saleh said the issue of sacked private and government workers would soon be fully resolved.
"When the commission was set up last month, we had 770 workers out of whom 260 were never contacted by the Labour Ministry," he said.
"This number has significantly shrunk with Batelco already re-employing sacked workers, besides Alba, Banagas and Gulf Air, which are currently completing the re-employment of all of those sacked."
Mr Al Saleh said the government had reinstated all those sacked or suspended with their original ranks and salaries.
"Yes, many were not returned to their original place of duty, but are still getting their same privileges without any degrade," he said.
"The government has put itself in a bad position because it employed people to fill the void, whom it can't sack, besides bringing back its original employees and now it has to look for overstaffing solutions."
Mr Al Saleh said the commission was set to complete its work by the end of February despite only being set up 45 days ago.
"We are going very fast and faster than expected because the government is very co-operative and our only problem is with work assigned to our national reconciliation, which is trying to beat time," he said.
"The Shura Council initiative for reconciliation introduced last week within government, private, civil, political, educational and vocational establishments will certainly speed up work.
"The Information Affairs Authority has appointed a French consultancy company to help it turn into a national front for the country that can absorb everyone and as we have known work is going fast to make changes."
Mr Al Saleh admitted existing laws would take time to be amended.
"Our work ends whenever the government drafts amendments and new laws are referred to the National Assembly. Then it is the responsibility of parliament and Shura Council to speed up the process."