The Bahraini government issued a statement to CNN responding to claims of oppression and abuse by human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja. The following is the full statement.
Since the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report in 2011, Bahrain has made a commitment to address all grievances, as well as well reform the institutional landscape to ensure historical errors are not repeated. In regards to grievances pertaining to any accusation of mistreatment, independent bodies have been established to investigate and address any incident of misconduct that may undermine public confidence in the Ministry of Interior (MOI), even if no formal complaint is filed.
These include an independent and impartial Ombudsman at the Ministry of Interior, whose jurisdiction was expanded to cover all MOI personnel, not just the police. It works closely with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) within the Public Prosecution, another independent body established in accordance with the BICI recommendations, which also investigates any allegations of mistreatment that were reported in BICI as well as others that were officially and unofficially reported after BICI. In fact, SIU regularly publicize their efforts towards accountability, and recently published their July report which included the investigation of 12 complaints against 22 defendants.
The definition of misconduct has also been significantly expanded to include all conduct that justifies the bringing of legal or disciplinary proceedings, and continues to specifically cover superior responsibility.
Additionally, the Ombudsman is responsible for monitoring all places of detention in Bahrain and has full access to all physical locations and information deemed necessary to ensure they meet international standards. Not to mention the Red Cross who have access to all prison and detention facilities.
The measures and platforms must be acknowledged as functioning bodies in hopes of overcoming the country's challenging past. The Government encourages all citizens to come forward and use these channels to expedite Bahrain's reform and reconciliation process. Those who publicize these unverified allegations without attempting to even use these channels must be challenged, instead of provoking an already volatile environment.
We would also like to make it very clear that Ms. Al-Khawaja's personal misguided view that "Bahraini citizens are oppressed" is not representative of the broad consensus, nor of the opposition front. It is unfair for CNN to prioritize her plight, without giving adequate weight to other members of society who may not share her views, nor her methods.
The strenuous efforts of the Government, which include the significant reform measures implemented, the pivotal Constitutional amendments enforced last year, as well as the current National Dialogue which aims to achieve a political resolution based on a consensus must be recognized.
Another prevalent issue that must be addressed is the dramatic escalation of violence by radicals using a series of militant tactics to voice their opinions, including explosives, shotguns and rocket launchers amongst many others, all constructed in homes. This led to numerous injuries to security personnel, as well as to innocent bystanders including a Bahraini teenager, and an Asian worker as recently as earlier yesterday morning.
It was this dramatic escalation in violence that led Parliament to put forward recommendations that would prioritize the stability and security for the majority of citizens who disagree with violent extremists. Moreover, the unstable environment has made it increasingly difficult to progress to reconciliation, and a hostile climate to foster a sustainable political resolution. These duties and reform measures should not be neglected nor compromised for political gains.
We urge you to use your channel as a platform for a constructive debate to ensure a fair depiction of the conflicting opinions and of the on-ground actualities.