On 10 November 2016 the annual FAB report was issued, investigating failures in administration procedures in all public sector departments, ranging from cases of poor management to incidences of corruption potentially necessitating criminal action.

All departments are obligated to follow up and address the issues raised, with the most serious cases being referred to the public prosecutor. The report is also submitted to Parliament which each year reviews the issues raised and recommends actions to take.

The entries concerning the Supreme Judicial Council, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Culture and Antiquities Authority, the Customs Authority, the Information Affairs Ministry and the Defence Ministry were relatively brief and straightforward. The main issues cited related to overspending of budgets, combined with failures to complete projects within the budget period, often resulting in substantial underspend on project budgets; as well as irregularities concerning staff recruitment, bonuses and contracts.

The Justice Ministry entry noted a number of financial procedural failures, as well as expenditure of only 11% of the projects budget. The report cited incidents where fines and fees were waived in the absence of a clear procedure for doing so.

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A champion for women inside Parliament?

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Bahrain is in need of a strong legislative voice in support of empowering women, protecting their rights, and ensuring that families and children are protected by the law. 

This is necessary for consolidating the Government’s own efforts to secure legal protections for women. This is also vital for initiating and promoting new legislative proposals, such as the draft bills circulated within the Shura Council and the Council of Representatives at the end of the last legislative year for protecting victims of rape.

In order to achieve this, the elected Parliament’s Women and Children’s Committee was an initiative which came into being after 2012, with the mandate of acting as an advocate for women in the Parliament; supporting pro-women legislation; and standing up for causes in the interests of women.

On 8 November 2016 a vote was held in the Council of Representatives for membership of the four smaller permanent committees, each composed of five members. The resignation of Khaled al-Shaer after this vote left this committee with a membership of three MPs associated with the Salafist Al-Asalah society

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Identity - ABC of civil society

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While the Government determines what political direction a nation takes, it is civil society which determines the national identity of a particular country – both how that country is perceived abroad and how the public sees themselves.

Without an active civil society there is no opportunity for a vibrant cultural life, and few opportunities for citizens to gain a clear understanding of how they see themselves and their wider society.

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Support for Shia Family Law: A week in politics

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27 Oct – 2 Nov

Seven years after opposition MPs blocked legislative efforts towards a Family Law for the Shia community (in the end only a Sunni law was passed); leading figures are once again prioritizing a revised Shia law.

The Justice Minister has spoken about the importance of these measures for protecting women and families on more than one occasion in recent weeks. At the National Conference for Bahraini Women on 1 November, the Family Law was also a central issue.

The King’s wife and President of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), Princess Sabeeka in her opening comments at this Conference stressed the necessity of accelerated efforts to issue a law for the protection of Shia families. She also called for stand-alone court buildings to fast-track family law cases.

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