Justice, Bahraini style

8 Aug, '06

You tell lies, you go to prison. And so you should. Case closed and throw away the key.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Johny (NOT johnster) says:

    Agreed, But why not give him medical care? (I just wondered what would happen to him for that felony in Israel. I don’t know, probably only a fine – stupidly, I think that the punishments isn’t harsh for that felony (but then again I’m not sure, I’m no lawyer)

  2. a Duoist says:

    The BCHR decries the Bahrain Judiciary for its lack of “independence,” and then paints the entire Judiciary as being “incompetent.”

    Under the ‘rule of law,’ a nation’s judiciary is not independent; it is specifically constituted to render impartial justice for, and on behalf of, the citizenry. Hardly ‘independent.’ We would not ever want an ‘independent’ judiciary, out of control of the citizens it serves; we want an impartial judiciary, at best, independent of control by the other branches of government.

    As for the broad paint stroke labeling an entire judicial branch as ‘incompetent,’ the statement smacks of the diatribe of a spoiled child whining because it is not getting its way.

    Who is the BCHR, that it fails to list its Board or its executive officers on its new website?

  3. Johny (NOT johnster) says:

    By reading again, I should add that what I said earlier does not mean that

    I don’t think the beaters don’t deserve a punishment. they do, for no man

    can do justice by himself (that’s what the courts are for). As for the woman

    worker, if she broke rules, she should be deported (and that’s without

    saying if the rules are worthy – that a wholly different topic). If not, she


  4. mahmood says:

    Johny, we know youre not Johnster.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Duoist, in normal English conversation, an “independent judiciary” means independence from the other branches of government, namely the executive and legislative branches. An “independent judiciary” doesn’t mean “out of control of the citizens”. Anyone with a basic proficiency of English is aware of this.

    Is the judiciary in Bahrain independent of the other branches of government? A guy was beaten by masked thugs for allegedly going out with a Filipina maid. The victim was arrested for allegedly lying to the police and sentenced two months in prison by the court. The judge did not allow the maid, the maid’s sponsor, or the guy’s friend to be presented as witnesses for the case. The prosecution did not even identify the identity of the assailants, but the judge felt confident enough to convict the victim of lying and send him to prison.

    Independent, competent judiciary? I don’t think so.

  6. Oh yeah? says:

    Duoist, the recent statements by the BCHR about the internet are classic examples of why it isn’t a human rights group in any usual sense of the term.

    While the group has rightly come down against the MoI’s restrictions of Google Earth, two days ago it was calling for the US to end the ‘misuse of the internet to spread hatred against certain races or religions’ after posters on the Free Republic website made derogatory remarks about a Bahraini Guantanamo detainee. (See – http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/arc_Articles.asp?Article=151887&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=29140)

    Everyone agrees that it is offensive to demean others and its not the sort of thing that right minded people do, but whatever happened to Voltaire’s principle ‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it’? The right to free speech is a principle that genuine human rights campaigners continue to stand for. (The only restrictions most people accept is over incitement to violence – and no where does the Centre mention anything about violence). If the Centre doesn’t like what’s being said there’s a very easy answer: ignore Free Republic’s bloggers or answer back, but don’t try to urge action against people’s right to free speech.

    What’s particularly telling is that the language the Centre uses to call for action against Free Republic is exactly the same language that the MoI uses to block sites: it’s all about the ‘misuse of the net’ and ‘spread of hatred’ with the supposed purpose to protect from offence. It’s the same language because it’s the same philosophy, the difference between the two is that the Centre claims to be a ‘defender of human rights’

  7. zara says:

    Oh yeah:
    I think it’s a little mean spirited, not to mention inaccurate, of you to accuse the bchr of encouraging action againts people’s freedom of speech.

    1- did you read more than that one line? because the two lines before this said:

    A Bahraini human rights activist who has been campaigning for detainees’ right to fair and legal proceedings yesterday condemned the comments on the website as incitement to religious and racial hatred.

    Vice-president of the now-dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) “These comments are sickening – and are an incitement to racial or religious hatred,” said Mr Rajab.

    “What they are saying goes against human rights by spreading hatred and we should urge the government to work for an end to the misuse of the Internet to spread hatred against certain races or religions.”

    2- nowhere did the bchr urge a CURB on the use of the internet to spread hatred etc etc. .. it said the statements were an incitement to racial or religious hatred (and the statements were also certainly and incitement to violence or harm) and the us government should work to end the internet being misused to for those purposes. what you are posting about is your presumption that they are calling for a clampdown.

    3- in such an oppressive environment, many dedicated individuals are learning about human rights, activism and other mechanisms and members of the bchr are definitely some of the most credible, based on the non sectarian, non race based issues they work on.

    you would do well to think about that.

  8. Bint Alshaah says:

    I’d like to add that BCHR played an interesting role during the discussions on the personal status law; it argued for the primacy of the role of religious clerics over individual rights of women, calling for a law that would be based on the values of the religious community contrary to ethos of the 1948 universal declaration of human rights.

  9. mahmood says:

    Which has been promulgated by the king today, but with the reservations the government expressed and included within that signing, it is a worthless bundle of paper.

    I don’t know what your reference is for the BCHR’s position, but I have spoken to Nabeel Rajab, the BCHR and he affirmed to me that they hold a completely non-religious view of the matter and are wholeheartedly with the Family Law against the mullahs.

  10. OY says:

    So why did he say this at the time: “We must ensure that there are appropriate procedures to ensure the active participation of all religious denominations in the drafting, approval and amendment of their own laws on personal matters.” http://www.bahrainrights.org/node/223

    Context here’s crucial because last October genuine human rights like Amnesty International were campaigning for a UNIFIED LAW for all communities. They were ultimately unsuccessful because they faced massive opposition from the mullahs who argued along with the BCHR for separate laws depending on someone’s religion.

    Never mind that the BCHR/mullahs’ position leaves women open to abuse or that it stands in direct contrast to the entire ethos of human rights since 1948, but why is the BCHR now telling people they wanted the opposite?

  11. mahmood says:

    Nabeel, care to reply?

  12. Anonymous says:

    OY: I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    With all do respect to you Mahmood, but I find many things on the agenda of BCHR to be somewhat questionable. It seems almost as if they have something else on their agenda, by far different than either human rights or a peaceful decent living for ALL Bahraini citizens.

  13. mahmood says:

    Anon and OY I respect your position. I am not their front-man, nor do I condone everything that they do. I do however applaud their efforts at highlighting injustices, like I do the other human rights organisations, as I firmly believe that they (generally) are doing more good than bad.

    We await the BCHR’s clarifications.

  14. Gulf News Dubai
    Region | Bahrain

    Published: 25/10/2005, 06:33 (UAE)

    Activist advocates family laws for all communities

    By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

    A human rights activist has called for the enactment of distinct
    family status laws for Bahrain’s various religious groups.

    “Every faith and sect in the country should have the opportunity to
    choose the legal and judiciary system that governs their personal status,”
    Nabeel Rajab, former head of the defunct Bahrain Human Rights Centre, has

    “We must ensure that there are appropriate procedures to ensure the
    active participation of all religious denominations in the drafting,
    approval and amendment of their own laws on personal matters,” he said
    yesterday in a press statement.

    The laws however must be compatible with fundamental rights, religious
    precepts and universal human rights, he said.

    A national campaign calling for the promulgation of a family law has
    been launched by the official Supreme Council for Women in a bid to codify
    laws governing family relations and cases of marriage, divorce, alimony and
    child custody.

    Women’s rights activists who have joined in the campaign have been
    highlighting judges’ bias against women, stressing that sentences were often
    based on individual interpretations, and called for a formal family law.

    Conservative religious leaders have resisted the law, citing concerns
    that lawmakers would not abide by strict Islamic rulings.

    Discrepancies in approaches and dogmas on family matters between
    Sunnis and Shiites, the dominating groups in Bahrain, have sparked calls for
    separate laws, a plea that activists are now accepting as a compromise to
    ensure the law wins popular support.

    Rajab in his statement said that other religious groups in Bahrain
    should have the right to enact their own laws.

    “There is an urgent need for a written family law, but no specific
    legal and judicial regulation on family matters should be imposed on any
    group. The Islamic Shari’a for instance should not be imposed on Christians
    or Jews, and no sect should be compelled to follow the precepts of another
    sect,” he said.

    Rajab also ruled out the possibility for deputies to alter or amend
    the status law of any sect or group without the consent of its members.

    Statute provides for freedom of religion

    a.. Bahrain’s constitution states that Islam is the official
    religion, but provides for freedom of religion. About 98 per cent of the
    400,000 Bahrainis are Muslims, with Jews and Christians constituting the
    remaining two per cent.
    b.. About half of the resident foreigners who make up about 40 per
    cent of the total population are non-Muslims, and include Christians, Jews,
    Hindus, Baha’is, Buddhists and Sikhs.
    c.. Thirteen registered Christian congregations, a synagogue, four
    Sikh temples, and several official and unofficial Hindu temples operate
    freely and allow other groups to use their facilities.
    d.. A Christian woman, Alice Samaan, is a Shura Council member and a
    Jewish woman, Huda Noono, chairs the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society

  15. Indepent of the Judiciary.I picked this part from US human rights report.As you all know that the US is an allay of my government .


    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

    The constitution provides for a nominally independent judiciary; however, the judiciary was not independent, and courts were subject to government pressure regarding verdicts, sentencing, and appeals. The constitution provides that the king appoint all judges by royal decree. The king also serves as chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, the body responsible for supervising the work of the courts and the public prosecution. The constitution does not provide a legislative branch confirmation process for judicial appointees nor does it establish an impeachment process.

    The country’s legal system is based on a mix of British Common Law, Shari’a (Islamic law), tribal law, and other civil codes, regulations, and traditions. The judiciary is organized into two separate branches: the civil law courts and the Shari’a courts.

    The civil law courts adjudicate all civil and commercial cases, and all personal status cases involving non-Muslims. The Courts of Minor Causes (the Lower Courts and the Court of Execution) have one judge with jurisdiction over minor civil and commercial disputes. The High Civil Court has three judges with jurisdiction over larger civil and commercial disputes and personal status cases involving non-Muslims. Three judges hear appeals at the Civil High Court of Appeal. The criminal law courts adjudicate criminal cases. The Lower Criminal Court has one judge and rules on misdemeanor crimes. The High Criminal Court has three judges and rules on felonies. Appeals are made to the Criminal High Court of Appeal, which also has three judges. Both the civil and criminal court systems have a Supreme Court of Appeal (Court of Cassation), the final appellate court.

    The Shari’a (Islamic law) courts have jurisdiction over personal status cases involving citizen and non-citizen Muslims. There are two levels: the Senior Shari’a Court and the High Shari’a Court of Appeal. At each level is a Sunni Maliki Shari’a Court with jurisdiction over all personal status cases brought by Sunni Muslims, and a Ja’afari Shari’a Court with jurisdiction over cases brought by Shi’a Muslims. The High Shari’a Court of Appeal is composed of a minimum of two judges. In the event of a disagreement, the Ministry of Justice provides a third judge, and the decision is based on a majority vote. There are 11 judges in the Sunni Maliki Shari’a courts and 12 judges in the Shi’a Ja’afari Shari’a courts.

    The 2002 constitution established the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws and statutes. The Court’s membership consists of a president and six members, all appointed by the king. These seven judges serve nine‑year terms and cannot be removed before their terms expire. The king may present draft laws to the court to determine their constitutionality. The court’s determination is final and “binding on all state authorities and on everyone,” according to the constitution.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Nabeel Rajab still hasn’t explained why he said one thing in October but is now telling people he said the opposite.

    The above article’s from 25 October last year; two days before on 23 October Al Wefaq and other Islamist parties were saying that they would agree to legislation so long as religious groups were involved in the drafting, so his views aren’t in opposition to them but an echo of them.

    I don’t know which is more basic for a human rights group to do: not doubletalk or to actually campaign for human rights, which brings up the other two questions regarding the BCHR and the personal status law:

    * How does the position the BCHR took at the time, calling for laws to be based on ‘religious denominations’ (which in practise means mullahs since once you start categorising people by religion it is the clerics who become the most senior authorities), better protect women from abuse than a single law based on individual rights that was being campaigned for by Amnesty International, Ghada Jamsheer and Bahrain Society for Human Rights?

    * More fundamentally why does the BCHR primacy so-called ‘group rights’ over the rights of the individual – in contravention of every human rights norm since 1948?

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