US State Department reviews BICI implementation

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On 21 June, the US State Department submitted an extensive report reviewing implementation of the 26 recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

In its opening summary, the State Department said: “The Government of Bahrain has made progress towards implementing the reforms recommended by the BICI following the 2011 unrest. The Bahraini Government has rebuilt demolished religious structures; reinstated employees dismissed in 2011; investigated claims of torture, which led to convictions in numerous cases; and compensated families of victims of state violence. Police and security forces have undergone human rights training. However, more work needs to be done.”

Although the State Department recommends a number of additional measures to consolidate the achievements in implementing the BICI, the report demonstrates that at least 20 of the recommendations have been completed according to the criteria set out by the BICI. In several areas the Government has already gone beyond what was stipulated.

There were only three main areas where work is still ongoing to fully deliver on the BICI, as acknowledged by the Government itself:

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NGOs - ABC of civil society

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What are NGOs?

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are entities which are independent of governmental influence. NGOs are non-profit-making organizations and are usually primarily run by volunteers who share a common agenda.

NGOs can have a local, national or international role. NGOs can be charities or social organizations; or they can have a political role, for example, overseeing the activities of governmental institutions, overseeing elections, monitoring human rights issues or lobbying on issues of concern to the public.

NGOs may be self-funding, although some NGOs may accept funds from governments in accordance with their founding charter and in a manner which doesn’t compromise their independence.

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What’s next for Bahrain?

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Bahrain, a country known to be one of the most politically and socially progressive in the region, has faced many challenges in its continuous path towards reform. While Bahrain’s 2001 National Action Charter opened up the country to official and legal political activities, this led to the gradual emergence of civil society and greater political representation. However, we also experienced a growth in sectarian societies, which led the country into turmoil.

Bahrain’s Government and Parliament have recently taken a number of steps to separate religion from politics, culminating in the shut-down of Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, a main player of the country’s political opposition. A question that many Bahrainis may ask today is: Where does this leave Bahrain politically? And what is next concerning the current economic challenges?

Here we take a broad look at the priority areas required for progress in Bahrain to take our society forward and address the current challenges:

Non-sectarian political societies

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Opportunity - ABC of civil society

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The benefits of civil society for Bahrain and for you

When extremists try to radicalize young people, they target individuals who have no hopes and dreams for their future, who have no clear ambitions and who lack purpose in their lives. This is why it is important for civil society to inspire hope and help give direction to young people’s lives.

Widening horizons

Organizations which work with young people can play an important part in opening up new opportunities for the youth: Showing them possible career opportunities, encouraging them to pursue further education, and stimulating their interest in becoming involved in activity which can serve society.

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