Greater transparency, accountability in human rights sought through ombudsman initiative

Nov 24, 2013

Manama, July 3 /2013 (BNA) -- Bahrain this morning inaugurated the office of the Human Rights ombudsman, In an effort to clean the slate and put the country on a new trajectory of peace, harmony and growth in all sectors.

At the inauguration of the ombudsman’s office for human right, the Minister for Interior Lieutenant General Shaikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifak, said that the ombudsman for human rights would be an autonomous body.

It would receive complaints from any and every person in the Kingdom of Bahrain from today . The media were informed that the office of the ombudsman would be in Seef.

The minister said that the ombudsman would not be dictated to by the Ministry of Interior and even the officials of this autonomous body would be financially independent.

He hoped the institution of this office would help win back the confidence and trust of all the people and help put Bahrain back on its track of prosperity.

Addressing a press conference after the launch of the ombudsman for human rights, Secretary General for addressing Grievances in the Ministry of Interior Nawaf Mohammed Al Ma’awda, said that the ombudsman for human rights would be an independent entity with the power to scrutinise all complaints of human rights violations in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

It would investigate all complaints of human rights raised – including those against the members of the Ministry of Interior and the officials of the prisons -- give a fair hearing to all sides and report its finding to the government to act on.

The complaints and the findings of the ombudsman would then be placed before the due process of law for a verdict. The findings of the ombudsman would be transparent and it would be revealed to the people through its annual reports.

The officials of the ombudsman’s office, Al Ma’awda said, would be bestowed with the authority to conduct informed and surprise visits to any detention centre and report on its findings there at any time.

Transparency in this office would result from the annual reports made public. Every official of the executive arm of the government would be made accountable for their action, with the establishment.

 

Officials of the human rights ombudsman would receive training from time to time from the British officials, who are helping in setting up this office, said the officials.

In response to a question posed by the Bahrain News Agency, the Secretary General of the Grievance Redressal cell reiterated that the efficiency exhibited in monitoring the complaints, in tracking the grievance to the final extent and the advise meted out would be before the people once it starts functioning.

However, in the context of the laws of Bahrain and in their interpretation, the office and function of the ombudsman in Bahrain and its counterparts in other countries would vary.

The office of the ombudsman in Bahrain would receive the international best practices followed by other governments and the same would be inculcated into its manual from time to time, said the secretary general.