Will Bahrain’s crackdown report heal divided nation – Frank Gardner BBC

BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner discusses Bahrain, The BICI report and ask the question “just how independent is the Bici?”

If Bahrain is to ever dig itself out of one of the darkest phases in its history it will need to ensure that where abuses are proven to have taken place those responsible are held accountable and that they are prevented from recurring.

So just how independent is the Bici?

The fact that it was appointed in June by royal decree by the monarch, King Hamad, and funded by his court, has already condemned it in many people’s eyes.

Suspicions were heightened in August when a rumour went round – since denied – that the commission intended to clear the government of “systematic abuse”.

This is a key point for the government which admitted to me in October that abuses had taken place but said they were not systematic.

Human rights campaigners believe they were systematic, and will be reading the coming report closely for any signs of a whitewash.

On its website, the Bici states that “the commission is wholly independent from the Bahraini government and will be responsible for hiring its own staff”.

It is headed by five non-Bahrainis, chaired by the former UN human rights lawyer, Professor Cherif Bassiouni.

The commissioners, who include Prof Sir Nigel Rodley, from Britain, have extensive experience investigating alleged war crimes in Iraq, Rwanda and the Balkans.

They say they have been given full access to government officials and files, that they have been able to meet witnesses in secret, and are being allowed to make any recommendations the commission sees fit.

The Bici has certainly had its work cut out for it.

Read full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15834361

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