Ombudsman's first annual Report shows 242 complaints in 10 months

May 29, 2014

Manama, 28/05/2014, (BNA) -- The Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior, Nawaf Al Moawdah, announced today the release of his office’s first Annual Report (2013-2014). He said the publication of the report is in line with his office’s commitment to engagement and transparency and seeks to inform the general public and all interested stakeholders about significant achievements to date, but also challenges moving forward, bearing in mind the expectations, aspirations and hopes for the Ombudsman Office. Al Moawdah stated that the Ombudsman's Office has made significant progress since its inception, particularly in implementing the required administrative and professional operational framework and developing the methodologies and standards for investigating complaints, making visits to rehabilitation and detention centers and ensuring stakeholder engagement. Additionally, he highlighted that the complaint investigations carried out by the Ombudsman Office over the ten months, covered a wide range of concerns including allegations of misconduct and alleged violations. Many cases were, following investigation, referred to other authorities for criminal investigations and many other recommendations for action were issued to the establishments where the complaints originated. Other cases were not upheld. The report shows that the Ombudsman Office received 242 complaints from complainants in the community and places of detention and 39 of these are still under investigation by the Ombudsman. Of these, 29 were referred to the Special Investigations Unit, 15 to the Security Prosecution and one to the Public Prosecution. 49 complaints resulted in recommendations for action being made to the establishment(s) where the complaint(s) originated. 109 complaints were either not eligible for investigation by the Ombudsman (because they did not concern the Ministry of the Interior), were resolved or were not upheld. 12 members of the Ministry of Interior were referred to the Criminal Courts, and two to the Disciplinary Courts following criminal investigations resulting from Ombudsman referrals. The Ombudsman is monitoring the progress of all these cases Deputy Ombudsman Osama Al Osfoor discussed Ombudsman visits to prisons and places of detention which have given rise to a number of issues of concern which need to be addressed urgently, most important of which is the quality of healthcare in prisons and detention facilities. In closing, the Ombudsman expressed his belief that the number of complaints received by the Ombudsman Office over time suggests growing confidence. He said that this, in turn, emphasizes the imperative for the Ombudsman Office to continuously develop the way in which it delivers its service. Current priorities include the further development of arrangements for communicating with complainants to inform them of the progress of complaint investigations and the achievement of greater accessibility to the services of the Ombudsman. Recommendations Further to the experience of the last ten months and the information presented in this Ombudsman 2013 / 2014 Annual Report, the Ombudsman is, in line with his responsibility to improve the policy and practice of policing and safeguard human rights, is now making some important new recommendations. The Ombudsman is also taking the opportunity to repeat other high priority recommendations made previously, but not yet fully implemented 1. To ensure that police staff can be easily identified by members of the public and detainees, arrangements should be made for every policeman, policewoman and police officer to have their personal identification number clearly displayed on their uniform. 2. Arrangements should be made for every police vehicle to have its unique identification number prominently displayed. 3. With immediate effect, the Dry Dock Detention Centre administration should assume full responsibility for transporting detainees to outside hospital when attendance for appointments or medical treatment is required and should cease the practice of requesting community police to undertake this function. An ambulance should continue to be called in the case of medical emergencies. 4. An urgent review of the arrangements for ensuring that no illicit substances or non-prescribed medication can be brought into prisons or places of detention should be completed. Any action required following the review should be taken immediately. 5. The number of doctors, nurses and medical support staff in the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre (Jau Prison) and Dry Dock Detention Centre Clinic Facilities should be increased in accordance with international best practice standards. Arrangements should also be put in place to ensure that a supply of all required medications is always available. 6. Efforts to provide training for all prison and detention facility staff, and other Ministry of Interior staff, in order to develop their capacity to provide appropriate care and supervision for prisoners and detainees, should be intensified. 7. Urgent action should be taken to address the very serious problem of overcrowding in cells at Jaw Prison. 8. The programme of work to locate surveillance cameras in all buildings, corridors and wards in every prison and detention centre, in line with international best practice standards, should be completed at the earliest opportunity. 9. All of the recommendations documented in the Ombudsman Report on the Visit to the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre (Jau Prison), published in September 2013, should be fully implemented.