Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Wednesday declared the establishment of an independent committee of legal experts to investigate the bloody unrest during anti-regime protests in February and March, state news agency BNA reported. The five-man panel will be chaired by Mahmud Sharif Bassiouni, an international expert in criminal law.
The commission, which must submit its findings by October 30, will have "free access to any person it deems useful," including representatives of civil society, the opposition and "the alleged victims and witnesses of alleged violations of human rights," according to the decree. "The government should not interfere in any way in the work of the commission," which may recommend "to try any person, including officers or employees" involved in the abuse in order to "prevent a repeat of events" in the Gulf kingdom.
The panel "will be comprised of eminent persons with extensive expertise in international human rights law, who have no role in our government, nor in our political sphere. They have been chosen because of their personal stature and international achievements," the edict said.
It will include Philippe Kirsch, a Canadian lawyer and former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Sir Nigel Rodley Simon, member of the UN Commission for Human Rights.
"The mandate of this Commission has been established after consultation with its members, and will be fulfilled without any interference of any kind. It will submit its report to us to take the necessary action. In this regard, we have issued a Royal Order setting out the members of the Commission and its terms of reference, emphasizing that all Ministers are to support the work of the Commission, and to cooperate without reservation in its work, so that its findings will reveal the truth and assist us in putting events of the past behind us, as we move towards a brighter future of unity and cohesion," the Bahraini king was quoted as saying.