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Bahrain Coalition for the ICC: Media Digest (Arabic and English)
11 Nov 2005
Please find below excerpts from 4 articles around the ICC workshop in Bahrain, that was held on November 9 and 10 at the Bahrain Bar Association. The workshop, which was attended by 90 people, was organized by Amnesty International Bahrain, CICC, and FIDH and concluded last night with the formation of the Bahraini Coalition for the ICC, whose activities will be governed by a 5-member steering committee.

For more information on the workshop please contact Mr. Nasser Burdestani of Amnesty Bahrain, [email protected]

MEDIA DIGEST:

1. Gulf Daily News, “Crime Treaty Spurs Action,” By Kanwal Hammed, Nov. 11, 2005
This article discusses a renewed campaign in Bahrain to create awareness about the ICC and urge Bahrain to ratify the Rome Statute. It includes substantial quotes from CICC MENA Coordinator Amal Basha and discusses future plans of the Bahraini Coalition for the ICC.

For the full text of the article, please visit:
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=126646&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=28236

2. Al-Ayyam newspaper, (Coalition formed to urge Bahraini Government to Join the Court), by Ali Majid, Nov. 11, 2005
This article provides a bit more detail on the groups and Parliamentarians that have joined the new Bahraini Coalition and notes that the question of ratification is likely to be on the parliamentary agenda in early 2006.

[In Arabic- summarized translation below]
For the full text of the article, please visit: [http://www.alayam.com]

3. Gulf Daily News, "Debate over Court Statute," Kanwal Hameed, November 5, 2005.
Published a few days in advance of the workshop, the article outlines the history of ICC-related activities in Bahrain over the past year and discusses the importance of ratification.

For the full text of the article please go to:
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=126073&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=28230

4. Al-Wasat Newspaper, ("Is Bahrain ratifying the 'Court of Crimes'?") Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, p. 6
This article, also published in advance of the workshop lays out the key provisions of the Rome Statute, including the importance given to victims’ rights. It also makes reference to the US opposition to the Court, through signing bilateral immunity agreements and asks how realistic prospects for Bahrain’s ratification are in a context of such strong US opposition.
[In Arabic- summarized translation below]

Thank you and Congratulations to our Bahraini colleagues!

Best wishes,
Anjali Kamat
CICC Outreach Liaison for the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Gulf Daily News, “Crime Treaty Spurs Action,” by Kanwal Hammed, Nov. 11, 2005

A campaign to grant the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction to prosecute individuals in Bahrain should they ever commit genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity was stepped up yesterday.

The body will pressure the Bahrain government to ratify and implement the ICC statute, which would grant the ICC jurisdiction in Bahrain …

Bahrain signed the ICC statute in December 2000, but is yet to ratify or implement it.

The Bahrain CICC is a pressure group established after a round of meetings between local and international human rights activists and government officials, said CICC Middle East and North Africa (MENA) co-ordinator Amal Basha. It also follows a two-day training session on the ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute in Bahrain.

The meetings and training concluded with a strategy session yesterday called 'What can Bahrain civil society do to ensure speedy ICC ratification?'



"We are reopening the issue (of ratification)," Ms Basha told the Gulf Daily News. ...

"The coalition will provide information to judges, lawyers, parliamentarians, the media and women's groups to raise local awareness on the topic."

Ms Basha said both the government and civil society should shoulder the responsibility of ratifying and endorsing the ICC.

The campaign “… will link local societies together in the national coalition, link up with regional coalitions and become part of the international coalition," said Ms Basha.

It could provide a draft model law to the government for the implementation of the ICC jurisdiction and must ensure that activities are taking place to implement it, said Ms Basha.

Meanwhile, she added that Bahrain has proposed a working paper about a draft model law for the implementation of the ICC statute to the Arab League States, who responded positively.

"But we do not need to wait for the law to be written before ratification," she added.



Meetings with Bahrain government officials at the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry, parliament and Shura Council had been "very positive, and very encouraging", Ms Basha said.

....

"Bahrain's ratification of the ICC would be of historical importance. It would put Bahrain, and any other Arab countries that also ratify the treaty, on an honour roll," she added.

"It is also very important for the interests of the Bahraini people."

If Bahrain ratifies the treaty, its judges, lawyers and citizens will be legible for employment in the ICC.

Delegates from Bahrain will also be invited to attend the annual meeting of the ICC in The Hague as a member country, with the right to elect judges. …

2. Al-Ayyam Newspaper, Nov. 11, 2005

[Unofficial summary translation:

Coalition formed to Urge Bahraini Government to Join the ICC

By Ali Majid

Amnesty International announced the formation of the Coalition which was created to urge the Bahraini Government to Join the International Criminal Court.

The coalition was declared after an ICC workshop yesterday, which was organized by Amnesty International Bahrain, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Joining the Bahraini Coalition were Parliamentary President Mr. Abdelhadi Marhoun, Shura Council member Mr. Mansour Al Areedh, and the League of Bahraini Lawyers, among several other Bahraini human rights organizations.

It is believed that it will be presented to Parliament for ratification at the start of 2006 and that the government will ratify in the near future. ]

3. "Debate over Court Statute," Kanwal Hameed, Gulf Daily News, November 5, 2005.

A series of meetings is to be held between top government officials and human rights activists to discuss the implementation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute in Bahrain.

A joint delegation of members from the Bahrain Human Rights Society and representatives from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) will meet with officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Justice Ministry, Parliament and Shura Council, as well as the French and British Ambassadors. ...

Delegates will discuss recommendations made at the round table seminar ... last year ... on the role of and status of the ICC ...

"Bahrain signed the ICC Statute in December 2000, but has not endorsed it yet," said BHRS assistant secretary-general Abdulla Al Derazi.
...

... [The Court] has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but only acts when countries are unwilling or unable to carry out investigative and prosecuting procedures.

Arab countries have been urged to ratify the treaty by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan since the beginning of last year.
...

Following the day of meetings the BHRS will host a strategy session entitled "What can Bahrain civil society do to ensure speedy ICC ratification?" on November 10 ... The 2-day training sessions are being organized by Amnesty International (AI), Bahrain and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC).

International speakers will include CICC Middle East and North Africa (MENA) co-ordinator Amal Basha, International Justice Desk of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) representative Delphin Carlens and MENA desk of the FIDH representative Marie Camberlin.

The aim of the training sessions is to provide NGO members, lawyers and members of local political societies with more information about the ICC Statute and how other groups around the world are campaigning on the issue of its ratification, said Amnesty International Bahrain branch Nasser al Bardouni.

The training sessions and meetings with officials will conclude with the strategy session, which will draw up an action plan for the ratification of the ICC Statute he said. ...

Implementation of the ICC statute, ... he added, would be a positive step for Bahrain, raising its legal system to an international standard....

"The implementation of the ICC Statute would be good for Bahrain because it will match local laws with international laws, and this will increase transparency."

4. Al-Wasat newspaper, Bahrain. Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, p. 6.

[Unofficial summary translation:

Is Bahrain ratifying the Court of Crimes?

Legal Editor

The Bahraini branch of Amnesty International is organizing a workshop on the ICC on November 9 and 10 to shed light on its workings and the importance of Bahrain joining the Court.

The Court, which was founded by the treaty of the Rome Statute, has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Court can investigate cases that are referred to it by a state party or the Security Council, or based on the Prosecutor's proprio motu powers to initiate an investigation.

The Court is particularly important in its function as a deterrent to future crimes. The Rome Statute also includes key provisions for protection of victims.

Bahrain has only signed the Rome Statute and is yet to ratify it. Legal activists rely on the possibility of pressuring the Bahraini government to ratify the Statute, which could perhaps result in the prosecution of those accountable for violations and torture in prisons during the 1980s and 1990s.

This treaty has scared the U.S., which, in turn, is protecting itself through signing illegal bilateral immunity agreements with governments around the world.

But the Security Council last year eliminated legal immunity for American soldiers - implying that the U.S. could itself be threatened by this agreement. [a reference to article 1487].

Following this, how realistic are the Bahraini lawyers demands of their government to ratify a treaty that the US considers dangerous and that their own government considers even more dangerous?]