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Justice Minister highlights Office of Ombudsman's role in promoting human rights

Nawaf bin Mohammed Al Maawda, Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, has asserted that the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman in Bahrain was within the framework of the kingdom's to institutionalise work aimed at ensuring the respect of human rights and consolidating the values of justice and rule of law.

This has been confirmed through a series of executive measures that have placed the kingdom among leading countries in respecting the values and principles of human rights, and made it a pioneer at the Arab and regional levels, he said, adding that Bahrain's human rights respect strategy gurantees full rights for the citizens and residents, within the comprehensive development process, led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and supported by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

Minister Al Maawda made the statements while addressing the opening ceremony of the international conference organised by the Office of the Ombudsman, under the theme "the Effectiveness of Ombudsman within the Institutional Work and Their Role in Promoting Respect for Human Rights ", marking its 10th anniversary.

Ministers, heads of national government agencies, heads of offices and unions of ombudsmen around the world, and representatives of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab countries are attending the two-day conference.

The Justice Minister congratulated Ghada Hameed Habib, the Ombudswoman, as the first woman to hold such a position. He also congratulated all the directors and staff of Bahrain's Office of the Ombudsman on the occasion.

He stressed that the success of the Office of the Ombudsman over the past years is a source of pride, and indicates the magnitude of its responsibility to undertake its duties and become more capable of responding to the multiple challenges that face all institutions, especially those involved in the most important value system in the lives of individuals and societies, which is the system of justice and equity.

Ombudswoman, Ghada Hameed Habib, said that the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman in Bahrain was closely related to the kingdom's deep-rooted civilised values, culminating in HM the King's comprehensive development process, supported by HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

She affirmed that the pioneering development process has opened wider horizons for progress and prosperity, as well as consolidated the mechanism to deal with human rights concepts and principles, making them an integral part of the value and administrative system of the state institutions, based on the spirit of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and all-inclusive national identity, thus producing a unique model for the Office to emulate.

She added that the establishment of the Office of the ombudsman, which was part of a package of legislative, executive and administrative measures taken by the kingdom within its comprehensive democratic and developmental process, has brought about a quantum leap in the field of human rights respect, in accordance with international values and standards.

She indicated that since its inception, the Office of the Ombudsman has been keen to take advantage of the best international practices in its field of work, citing its membership in the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), and role in founding the OIC Ombudsman Association (OICOA).

Ghada Hameed Habib expressed thanks and appreciation to all those who had contributed to the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman, paying tribute to General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, the Interior Minister, Interior Ministry's senior officials, Nawaf bin Mohammed Al Maawda, the first Ombudsman, Osama Ahmed Al Asfoor, the first Deputy Ombudsam, and all the affiliates of the Office for their dedication and professionalism.

E. Chris Field PSM, President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Western Australian Ombudsman, also addressed the opening ceremony. He expressed great pleasure in attending the conference.

"The Ombudsman institution, wherever it exists in the world, seeks to be a champion of principles that make our societies fairer and more successful. I thank the Ombudsman of the Kingdom of Bahrain for being a champion of these principles for a decade. Your institution epitomises best practice modern Ombudsman principles and practice, but does so in a way that continues to value and celebrate the richness, diversity and success of Bahraini culture and its long heritage" said Mr. Field.

"As President of the International Ombudsman Institute, or IOI, I take this opportunity of being in the Kingdom of Bahrain to make two important commitments. First, I commit to every one of the Ombudsman of Islamic nations, which includes the Ombudsman of Bahrain, that I will ensure that Arabic is adopted as an official language of the IOI. The adoption of Arabic as an official language of the IOI is central to my support as President for the great Islamic nations of the world. Second, I commit to increase the yearly IOI subvention funding provided for the Asia Region of the IOI, of which the Ombudsman of Bahrain is a member, indeed by doubling the current amount of funding. This doubling of the funding recognises the fact that the Asia Region is the most populous in the world, including a very large number of Ombudsman undertaking vital work," he added.

Şeref Malko, Chief Ombudsman of the Republic of Türkiye and OICOA President, expressed thanks to Bahrain's Ombudsman's Office for hosting the international conference, wishing its continued success.

In his speech, he highlighted the concept of the "Ombudsman" in Islamic history, under many names.

He indicated that the offices of the ombudsmen play a major role in achieving the best for society through establishing justice, and building a strong relationship between the state and the public.

The opening ceremony featured a documentary film about the work and achievements of the Office of the Ombudsman over the past 10 years, including its role in serving the public and consolidating human rights respect in various fields related to its jurisdiction.

Ombudswoman, Ghada Hameed Habib, also presented the Justice Minister with a commemorative shield.