Commenting on the one year anniversary of the publication of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, said:
“Establishing the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was an unprecedented and positive response to the unrest which hit Bahrain in Spring 2011. We fully acknowledge the leadership it took to accept its findings and the commitment made by His Majesty to deliver reforms based on their recommendations.
“We commend the steps taken so far, including ensuring that the National Security Agency does not have the authority to arrest and detain individuals, the establishment of a Special Investigations Unit to determine the accountability of those who committed unlawful or negligent acts, and the establishment of a Police Ombudsman to receive complaints and grievances and to oversee and conduct investigations.
“But we are concerned by some of the recent decisions taken by the Bahraini Government, particularly on human rights, and we’re clear that there are areas where progress on implementation has been too slow and others where it is lacking. Much more needs to be done on relaxing censorship and allowing the opposition greater access to media, on integrating personnel from all communities in Bahrain into the security forces, and question marks remain on senior level accountability for the deaths and the allegations of torture following the unrest of 2011. The Bahraini Government has itself acknowledged that more work still needs to be done and the UK stands ready and willing to assist in whatever way we can.
“The Commission’s report revealed deep-rooted issues that pose significant challenges for the Bahraini Government and will take time to fully address, as will a change in behaviour and culture. There have also been increasingly violent protests on the streets, which are unacceptable. As Bahrainis today mark the first anniversary of the landmark BICI report, we urge the Bahraini Government to show a renewed sense of energy and commitment to implementing all the recommendations, and we call on all community leaders to play a constructive role in this process for the long-term stability of the Kingdom.”