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A symposium by the KRC and the BFHR on the sidelines of the 47th session of the Human Rights Council entitled “Bahrain: The Reality of Political Rights

 

A symposium by the KRC and the BFHR on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council entitled “Bahrain: The Reality of Political Rights”

 

To watch the symposium, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=revGSiU93tM

 

The Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, in cooperation with the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR), organized a symposium entitled “Bahrain: The Reality of Political Rights,” on the sidelines of the 47th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on Friday, September 25, 2021. Dr. Jalal Fairouz, a former MP of the Al-Wefaq parliamentary bloc, Mr. Yahya Al-Hadid, President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Mr. Abdul-Ghani Khanjar, representative of the Movement of Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) abroad, and Mr. Baqer Darwish, Chairman of the BFHR spoke at the symposium, which was managed by Ghina Rebai, a researcher at the BFHR.

 

At the opening of the symposium, Rebai said that in Bahrain, the decline of citizenship is not limited to depriving the majority of real political representation and undermining the principle of the people being the source of powers. She noted that this reality is applied in Bahrain, while sound political action in any citizenship state is divided between an authority that implements its political project and a constructive opposition that monitors the work of the authority and criticizes it in a rotating cycle, in which roles are changed and various political groups rule successively each time the people elect them, according to the principle of the peaceful transfer of power and what is included in political freedoms.

 

Fairouz: The monopoly of power and the absence of the political right has entrenched tyranny in Bahrain and established marginalization, and the country today needs to respect popular opinion, which is the source of power.

As for the former MP of the Al-Wefaq parliamentary bloc, Dr. Jalal Fairouz, he said in his speech that the core of the aggravating problem in Bahrain is that sovereignty is absent and the decision is made by the tribal mentality, where all authorities bypass the people, and the powers are granted only to the king and his family. Fairouz pointed out that "the absence of freedoms in Bahrain confirms that Bahrain’s system is undemocratic despite the constitution's affirmation that the people are the source of powers," stressing that "the people of Bahrain have no authority to form the government and the legislative authority, and therefore have no right to formulate fateful decisions, as in democratic countries.” He also stressed that "the monopoly of power and the absence of political right has entrenched tyranny in Bahrain and established marginalization, and the country today needs to respect popular opinion, which is the source of authority, and needs to draft a new constitution and implement the principle of peaceful transfer of power."

 

Al-Hadid: The Political Isolation Law eliminated the political right of a large segment of Bahrainis

Mr. Yahya Al-Hadid, President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, commented that the Political Isolation Law eliminated the political right of a large segment of Bahrainis and deprived them of practicing their political activities, in clear violation of the spirit of the constitution, which affirms the right to run and vote. "The dissolution of Al-Wefaq, Wa'ad and other associations and the targeting of their members entrench political isolation and besiege political rights and media and civil liberties, which means that the authorities discriminate against a segment equivalent to half of Bahrain's population," Al-Hadid added. He called for drafting a new constitution, respecting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reinstating associations, allowing the practice of journalism, stopping the restriction of political rights, and enacting legislations that protects all civil liberties.

 

Khanjar: Stubbornness and patch solutions will not satisfy the people of Bahrain, and what is required is to achieve a true democracy

As for Mr. Abdul-Ghani Khanjar, the representative of the Movement of Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) abroad, he commented that "Stubbornness and patch solutions will not satisfy the people of Bahrain, and what is required is to achieve a true democracy through the drafting of a good constitution written by an elected parliament in a serious and fair manner." Khanjar added that "The ruling family should not deal with the people of Bahrain as subjects, and it must change its methodology, stop monopolizing the authorities, and return to making the people the only source of power, otherwise there is no serious solution to the crisis."

 

Darwish: The Bahraini authorities have taken legislative and executive measures to marginalize the political right and have increasingly entrenched political isolation

As for Mr. Baqir Darwish, Chairman of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR), he commented that “As a result of the systematic undermining of the political right in Bahrain, there has been a crisis of trust between the people and the authorities for many years, in addition to the many crises the authorities have produced, particularly the human rights and political crises.” In addition, Darwish noted that the Bahraini authorities have taken, since the seventies, legislative and procedural measures to marginalize the political right, leading to their current increase in perpetuating political isolation since the issuance of Law No. 25 of 2018 amending Article 3 of Decree Law No. 14 of 2002 on the Exercise of Political Rights.

The Amiri order issued in 1975 transformed the executive authority into a legislative authority as well

 

Darwish pointed out that Article 3 of the Amiri Order No. (4) of 1975 regarding the elections stipulates, “The Council of Ministers shall assume the legislative authority with us during that period,” which is what has disrupted the validity of Article 65 of the Constitution and gave the Council of Ministers the power to issue legislations by decree laws for more than twenty years. Darwish added that this is what transformed the executive authority into a legislative authority, in a clear confiscation of the right to a legislative initiative from the citizens despite its violation of Article 108 of the Constitution, noting that the 2002 Constitution and the subsequent constitutional amendments were within the path of undermining the legislative initiative and marginalizing the political right.

Paragraph 50 of the Bassiouni report on undermining the principle of separation of powers

Darwish pointed out that Paragraph 50 of Bassiouni’s report referred to undermining the principle of separation of powers by noting that “The King enjoys broad executive powers, which he exercises both directly and through his ministers, who are appointed and dismissed by Royal Decree. The King is the Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) and presides over the Higher Judicial Council. While the Council of Ministers is collectively accountable to the King, the Council of Deputies may withdraw confidence from any cabinet member by a two-thirds majority. The Constitution stipulates, however, that the Council of Deputies may not withhold confidence from the Prime Minister. Rather, if the Council of Deputies finds, by a two-thirds majority, that it is unable to “cooperate” with the Prime Minister, the matter is referred to the King to adjudge by either dismissing the Prime Minister or disbanding the lower house. Generally, the King has the right to dissolve the Council of Deputies, in which case sessions of the Consultative Council are suspended.”

Darwish explained that the measures taken by the Bahraini authorities regarding political rights violated Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He added that "the political right of the people of Bahrain has been taken away, in a violation of the international legislations, and the authorities have amended many laws and confiscated many powers, in a flagrant violation of rights, which was documented by the Bassiouni report and the events and measures that followed." Darwish referred to the detailed explanation of the powers granted to the king stated in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) (Basiouni report), considering it “one manifestation of the marginalization and infringement of the political right, such as dissolving political and civil associations.”

“Some of the forms of political repression is the pursuit and arrest of peaceful activists, and the authorities’ attempt to weaken civil and political society,” Darwish said. He called on the international community and all the human rights institutions thereof to exert serious pressure to respect the political right in Bahrain by addressing the main causes of the crisis in order to achieve transitional justice.

Some of the measures that were in the process of undermining the political right were represented in the constitutional amendments issued since 2002 to a number of laws, including:

- The Law on Exercising Political Rights pursuant to Decree Law No. (14) of 2002, which is the law that regulates the processes of referendum and the election of members of Parliament. The Law on Exercising Political Rights consists of thirty-seven articles, distributed among five chapters, which deal successively with political rights and their practice, voter lists, the organization of the referendum and election processes, referendum and election offenses, and final provisions.

- Decree-Law No. (15) of 2002 on the Consultative Council and the Parliament, which regulates the appointment of members of the Consultative Council and running for Parliament.

- The Amended Decree-Law No. (3) of 2002 on the municipal councils election system.

- Decree-Law No. (6) of 2002, which regulates the election of members of municipal councils.

- Decree-Law No. (16) of 2002 promulgating the National Audit Office Law, which removed the financial and administrative supervision authority from the House of Representatives and granted it to the Royal Court.

- The internal regulations of the House of Representatives promulgated by Decree-Law No. 94 of 2002.

All of these laws – referred to above – were not issued by a legislative body, but rather by the authorities and by a royal will. These laws contradict some principles and legislations that guarantee the political rights of all citizens in accordance with what international laws indicate, and some of them even contradict the principles of Constitutional jurisprudence.

For example, it can be said that Decree-Law No. (15) of 2002 regarding the Consultative Council and the House of Representatives, which regulates the appointment of members of the Consultative Council and running for Parliament, has reduced the people's power in terms of political participation and the management of the country's public affairs – stipulated in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – since this law caused half of the legislative authority to be appointed by the king.

With regard to the Law on Exercising Political Rights No. (14) of 2002, it can be said that Decree Law No. (13) of 1972 on the Provisions for the Election of the Constituent Assembly – which was adopted for the elections to the House of Representatives in 1973 – was ahead of the Law on Exercising Political Rights No. (14) of 2002. The new law gave the authorities the power to distribute electoral districts and control the voters' lists, according to Article 17 thereof, which stipulates, “[...] a decree shall be issued to specify regions and electoral districts and their boundaries, and the number of sub-committees needed to conduct the polling and counting processes [...].” This led to the unfair distribution of electoral districts, and the removal of many from the voters' list for political reasons.

It should be noted that this law was amended to prevent a large number of citizens from the right to vote and run in the 2018 elections.

With regard to Decree-Law No. (16) of 2002 concerning the National Audit Office, we can say that this law eliminated the authority of financial and administrative supervision from the Council of Representatives and made it subordinate to the Royal Court. Its first article stipulates that “An independent body having public legal personality shall be established under the name, the ‘National Audit Office,’ and is subordinate to the king. The office shall conduct financial supervisions over state funds and the funds of the entities stipulated in Article (4) of this law, and it checks in particular the safety and legality of the use of these funds and their good management according to this law.”

Added on: 2021-10-18 15:21:18
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