A Significant Turning Point For Bahrain's Present And Future

23 April 2004

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) supports the efforts of members of the Council of Representatives, who are following-up investigations and hearings in the case related to Pension Fund Commission (PFC) and the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). The BCHR on the other hand is calling for investigations of corruption in other institutions such as the Endowments Directorate.

The BCHR stresses the grave impact of these cases on the national economy and the economical rights of the people. These cases are examples of administrative and financial corruption and public money squandering, whilst large sections of society are suffering from increasing poverty, unemployment, underpayment and inappropriate housing.

Serious and wide-scale irregularities have been revealed in the report prepared by the Parliamentary Investigations Committee in the PFC and GOSI case and in the discussions of the report by the Council of Representatives. Investigations and hearings should continue to unveil the extent of these wrong-doings. If approved, the concerned ministers should be dismissed and all involved employees should be penalized through the legal system.

Investigation, interrogation and holding the official responsible for the irregularities, must continue, regardless of the government's attempts to close the case through; announcing to hand back the mismanaged money and lands, responding positively to the recommendations in the report of the Representatives, disseminating information about governmental reshuffle and rotating some ministerial portfolios or pressurizing members of the house of representatives.

The representatives were distinctive in discussing the report, yet important questions remain unanswered: who are the persons benefiting from these irregularities? what were the government's decision-making mechanisms in this issue? and to what extent are the cabinet members collectively responsible in the related decisions?

The PFC and GOSI case clearly revealed the performance of in other governmental institutions. It is also a testing tool for the functioning of the House of Representatives and its ability to monitor and hold the government responsible. Any retraction or negligence by the Representatives in dealing with the case will affect their independence and efficiency, and will raise doubts on the functioning of the whole democratic system.

On the other hand, the BCHR finds it strange that the state institutions are ignoring serious irregularities in other Governmental institution such as in the Endowments Directorate, despite details revealed in the press. While the former head of the Endowments Directorate (who addressed the irregularities) is being prosecuted for defamation, the public prosecution refuses to investigate the irregularities, with the excuse that the case has not been reported officially to the public prosecution office. While the Council of Representatives is avoiding to take up the case, leaving the topic in the hands of a public committee, formed by a journalist who was able to gather critical documents that prove the irregularities.

The real solution to tackle administrative and financial corruption in the country, is to deal with the corruption files with indispensable boldness and transparency. This will be an example of implementing the rule of the people and law, and will guarantee economic and social development. Whereby, internal and foreign confidence in the performance of the regime will increase, paving the way for prosperity and welfare.

The Religious and societal figures, the various civil societies and all forms of media and press are requested to play an active role in the financial and administrative corruption cases, among other means, to support the Council of Representatives to be able to carry out its responsibilities in these cases. For the fate of the issue will be a turning point for Bahrain's present and future.