One year after the landmark report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of inquiry (BICI), the abuses of the 2011 uprising still stand unpunished, and the human rights situation has markedly deteriorated.
Only a handful of police officers have faced prosecution for the killing of protesters and the torture or other ill-treatment of detainees. Instead, the authorities have entrenched repressive practices. Even as Bahrain trumpeted reform in international forums and to its allies, it jailed human rights activists and tightened restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly – culminating in a ban on all protests in October 2012. The BICI report, at the time hailed as groundbreaking, has been shelved by the spiralling repression.
Bahrain risks sliding into protracted unrest and instability and is at a crossroads. The BICI report provides a roadmap to put Bahrain on the path of the rule of law; only the genuine implementation of the BICI report recommendations would halt the slide. Bahrain’s close allies, including the USA and the UK, can no longer brandish the BICI report to give themselves cover to go back to business as usual.