Bahrain makes irrevocable strides on democratic reforms

Last week, Information Affairs Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al-Rumaihi highlighted the ongoing reform process in Bahrain, which seeks to pioneer democratic practices that effectively enforce the rule of law in the country.

The Minister stressed the Kingdom’s resolve in pursuing the reform process by guaranteeing peaceful freedom of expression through legitimate channels, including the Parliament, civil institutions, and a free and pluralistic mass media.

On this front, the Minister commended the contribution of a vibrant civil society in Bahrain, made up of 22 political societies and 617 social, cultural and women-based associations. He stressed that these organizations support sustainable development through peaceful means and legitimate goals, without prejudicing religious and national unity or subverting public security.

In a statement to the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Minister Al-Rumaihi said that court sentences handed down to conicts indicted in security-related cases do not prejudice Bahrain’s respect for human rights and freedom of expression.

“The verdicts emanated from an honest and independent judicial authority which ensured all guarantees for a fair trial in compliance with the 2020 penal code,” he stated, and added that the defendants were allowed to hire lawyers and had access to transparent trials in the presence of media and NGOs.

The Minister went on to explain that since 2011, the Kingdom has been targeted by a campaign of violence, sabotage and terrorism, leaving 19 policemen dead and more than 3,000 others wounded. He cited terrorist plots which were foiled by Bahraini security agencies, in cooperation with GCC states, along with Iranian and foreign-backed defamatory media and political campaigns aimed to destabilize societies and forment sectarianism and hated.

He expressed confidence that Bahrainis would unite in political leadership, commit to constitutional legitimacy, and renounce violence and terrorism. Bahraini citizens proved their political maturity in the 2014 parliamentary elections, in which electoral participation mounted to 52.6%.

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Tobias Ellwood also emphasized that Bahrain has achieved numerous successes in the reform process. He said that Britain recognizes the desire by Bahrain to move forward and that legitimate reforms are taking place, though it takes time to effectively consolidate the reform process.

“It takes time to get the processes in place. It takes a long time. Britain has had 800 years since Magna Carta. Bahrain had its independence at the end of the last century,” Ellwood stated during a press conference at the British embassy.

Ellwood also expressed Britain’s appreciation of Bahrain’s efforts in fighting violent extremism, highlighting the country’s participation in challenging online extremism and its participation in the 60-country counter-Daesh coalition.

Furthermore, on Iran, Ellwood stressed that the country should draw on the nuclear deal it signed with world powers to “start a new chapter and put an end to its proxy influence in Bahrain.”

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