Bahrain Commission to Investigate Security Forces
A panel commissioned by Bahrain will investigate the conduct of security forces under martial law during protests that rocked the country.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 7/25/2011, 4:44 PM
A commission empanelled by Bahrain to investigate the protests that took hold of the tiny island kingdom announced Sunday it will examine the conduct of security forces during the unrest, Reuters reports.
The chairman of the five-member panel, Cherif Bassiouni, said his team will look at 30 police officers under investigation by the Interior Ministry for violating procedures. He added the army would also be investigated.
"We will investigate the role of the army. The army is not above the law and not beyond the law," Bassiouni said.
Bahrain has said it will give the commission access to official files and allow it to meet witnesses in secret.
Bassiouni said the panel was investigating the 33 deaths recorded during the protests and crackdown, as well as 400 cases of injuries. He also said the commission would investigate claims of torture in detention, including of several medical workers.
"[The mandate] also includes a number of allegations of torture including that of the offenses which occurred against medical personnel, which are well documented by international human rights groups," Bassiouni told reporters.
Bahrain denies any systematic abuse by police and has said all charges of torture will be investigated.
Bassiouni told reporters the panel would hand over its report to the king in October but said the real task would be to act on the commission's recommendations.
"The risk is that there are too many high expectations of what we may be able to accomplish," he said. "It becomes a matter of internal significance to act on the recommendations ... this crisis had a traumatic effect on the people of Bahrain."
Tensions still simmer in Bahrain, with small protests erupting daily in Shi'ite villages ringing the capital since emergency law ended on June 1. On Friday tens of thousands protested following afternoon Muslim prayers after Al Wafeq, the principle opposition party, pulled out of government-led reform talks last week.
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa set up the panel of human rights and legal experts in June after facing international criticism for the crackdown, including from the United States, a long-time ally whose strategic Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.
Panel chief Bassiouni is an Egyptian-American law professor and United Nations war crimes expert who was involved in the formation of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) and recently headed a UN inquiry into events in Libya.
The commission also includes Canadian judge and former ICC president Philippe Kirsch, British human rights lawyer Nigel Rodley, Iranian lawyer Mahnoush Arsanjani and Kuwaiti Islamic law expert Badria al-Awadhi.