Bahrain’s independent Ombudsman’s Office has issued its 2016-17 annual report detailing its performance over the past year in investigating complaints against detention personnel and other government departments.

Case studies of Ombudsman investigations illustrate the important role the Ombudsman Office is playing in bringing abuses and shortcomings to light. It was notable that many of the successful investigations relied heavily on CCTV evidence which on many occasions upheld complaints by providing incontrovertible evidence of personnel acting improperly. The Ombudsman’s efforts provided a starting point for criminal investigations and legal measures against prison staff and government employees. CCTV was installed throughout all detention centres, police centres and interrogation rooms after 2011 as a core recommendation of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry.

CCTV has been used for both relatively minor complaints and accusations that detention staff used physical force. The Ombudsman’s effective and professional role in investigating such complaints and, where appropriate, passing investigations on for legal measures, demonstrates how important this office is in improving accountability across Bahrain’s detentions system and the public sector in general.

During late 2016, Amnesty International commended the Ombudsman’s important role: “The Ombudsman’s office appears generally to have fulfilled its mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations, make recommendations and refer relevant cases to the SIU [Special Investigations Unit] or other authorities while also taking steps to increase its accessibility, improve its procedures and enhance transparency. It also claims to have resolved various issues related to the treatment of prisoners and detainees.”

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Bahrain – Best country in the world for expats

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According to the most comprehensive annual survey of expats worldwide, Bahrain is the world’s most popular destination. The Expat Insider 2017 survey scored Bahrain particularly highly as being a welcoming nation for new arrivals and a great location for families. Although Bahrain has normally been among the top-twenty nations in Expat Insider surveys and similar polls, this year Bahrain soared into the top place.

Explaining Bahrain’s strong showing, Expat Insider stated: “Improvements across all indices that factor into the ranking have seen the Gulf state take pole position in 2017”.

Here we look at the reasons why Bahrain is best in the world:

A warm welcome

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Analysis: Bahraini views on the new Unified Family Law

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Almost a decade after the issuance of the Sunni Family Law in Bahrain, the King ratified a Unified Family Law for both the Sunni and Shia sect early last month. The decision came following the vote by Parliament in which majority of the MPs voted in favour of a Unified Family Law.

This is an important step in ensuring that all women and family members have equal access to effective justice. Below are the views of a wide range of Bahrainis on what the Unified Family Law means to them:

“What we've waited for”

“This is one of the most important steps taken by the country. Having a Unified Family Law is what we've waited for and today we can say that we enjoy equal rights in family rights despite the differences in our sects;” said Samar, aged 38, from Isa Town.

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Militancy in Bahrain

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This series of articles is the first attempt of its kind to definitively document the history of militancy in Bahrain over more than sixty years – looking both at Sunni and Shia militant trends, as well as examining the role of external powers like Iran in influencing and fueling these radical tendencies. These articles also examine the ideological and theological currents which have underpinned Islamist activism in Bahrain.

By examining these developments in historical context it becomes easier to see how militancy has evolved, as well as better understanding how to address these challenges and prevent young people from becoming radicalized in the future.

Click on the hyperlinks below to access the complete articles:

Part 1: Beginnings of militancy – 1950-1990

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