New Police Ombudsman Commits to Accountability, Transparency and Justice for Victims of Police Misconduct

Jul 11, 2013
Manama,Aug25(BNA) The recently appointed Police Ombudsman for the Ministry of Interior, Secretary-General Nawaf Almaawdah, announced on Saturday that the Office of Ombudsman will conduct independe... Read More

About the General Secretariat of the complaints

1.     What is the Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman is an independent secretariat, financially and administratively, in the Ministry of Interior established to ensure compliance with professional standards of policing set forth in the Code of Conduct for the Police, as well as in the administrative regulations governing the performance of civil servants.

It operates within a general framework that includes respect for human rights and the consolidation of justice, the rule of law and the public confidence, in line with Recommendation 1717and Recommendation 1722 Paragraph (d) in the report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).

The Ombudsman assumes its authority and mission in full independence with respect to the complaints it receives against any civilian or public security personnel in the Ministry of Interior for alleged criminal offense because of, during or as result of their scope of responsibilities.

In addition, the Ombudsman informs the competent authority in the Ministry of Interior to take disciplinary action against violators employed by the ministry. It also informs the public prosecutor in the cases that constitute criminal offenses. It updates both the complainant and the defendant about the steps taken to investigate the complaints and the conclusions of the investigations.

2- Who is entitled to make a complaint to the Ombudsman?

Any citizen, expatriate, or visitor may file a complaint to the Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior or the Ombudsman if they feel:

A –They have been the victim of misconduct in any form by a Ministry of the Interior employee because of, during or as result of their scope of responsibilities.

B- They have been negatively affected by the above-mentioned abuse. The negative effect could be in any form of loss or damage or exposure to risk. However, it does not include damages related to or resulting from watching the event on television or in a video footage or following it up in the media.

C- They have directly witnessed the event. Anyone who watches or hears or reads about the misconduct in the media cannot be considered a complainant in such a case.

D- Complaints may be made by an agent in any of the above-mentioned cases or by a member a civil society organization on behalf of those affected provided he or she obtains a written consent from the complainant.

The Ombudsman will provide the necessary facilities and services to deal with complaints filed by complainants with special needs or by non-Arabic speakers who need translations.

3- What types of complaints are accepted by the Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman investigates the complaints filed in the following cases:

A - If the complaint includes death or physical injury or serious ill-treatment that occurred during or after the exercise by an employee of the Ministry of Interior during or as a result of the responsibilities of his or her work.

B - Any misconduct by any of the employees of the Ministry of Interior that leads to a negative impact on public confidence in the ministry.

4 - What types of complaints are not accepted by Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman does not investigate complaints made against non-employees of the Ministry of Interior.

The Ombudsman does not consider or examine complaints related to decisions, directives, instructions and orders issued by the Minister of Interior or the Head of Public Security to the personnel of the ministry.

In addition to the above, it must be noted that administrative decisions of either approval or rejection by any competent authority at the Minister of Interior cannot be a basis for a complaint that falls under the mandate of the Ombudsman. For example:

1) Rejection of a visa or a residency permit application by Directorate of Nationality, Passport, and Residence Affairs.

2) A rejection of an application for a position at, or a promotion by, the Ministry of Interior.

3) Appealing against the general Directorate of Traffic for an unsuccessful grade on the Driver's License Exam.

5 - How to file a complaint or a grievance to the Ombudsman?

A complaint to the Ombudsman may be filed through one of the following procedures:

• Register a complaint with the representatives of the Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior in the security directorate in the governorate (Five directorates), based on the residence address or the location of the incident.

• Send a complaint electronically to the website of the Ombudsman: www.ombudsman.bh

• Physical presence at the headquarters of the Ombudsman in the case of a complaint that is accepted directly by the Ombudsman

• Send a completed form by post to P.O. Box 23452, Kingdom of Bahrain.

6- How does the complaint process work?

A. Registration:

Every complaint against an employee of the Ministry of Interior must be registered in the records of the ministry in order to be addressed formally.

B. The investigation of the complaint:

I – Investigations by the Directorate of Internal Investigations:

The Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior receives and examines complaints against employees of the Public Security Forces. A representative of the Directorate at the Security Directorate conducts the investigation at the security directorate. The investigation directorate informs the complainant and the defendant without delay about the situation through a statement containing adequate and sufficient information as well as the measures taken in order to investigate the complaint and the outcome of the examination.

C - Investigations by the Ombudsman:

The Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior refers complaints to the Ombudsman in the following cases:

A - If the complaint includes a case of death or physical injury or serious ill-treatment during or after action by an employee of the Interior Ministry for, during or as a result of the exercise of their responsibilities.

B – Any offensive misconduct by an employee of the Ministry of Interior that leads toa negative impact on public confidence in the Ministry of Interior.

The Ombudsman informs the complainant and the defendant without delay through a statement that details the measures taken to investigate the complaint and the findings.

D – Reaching a decision:

When the Ombudsman or the Directorate of Internal Investigations makes a decision on a complaint submitted to either of them, the complainant and the defendant are notified about the details in a statement that includes ample information.

7 – What should a party in the complaint do if the outcome of the investigation is not satisfactory?

Any complainant or defendant or an assigned agent has the right to appeal the decision to the Ombudsman against the decision by the Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior within 60 days from the date of notification.

However, appeals against any decisions or recommendations or investigations by the Ombudsman cannot be submitted to the Ombudsman and are referred to the competent court.

8–What is the role of the Ombudsman in cases of reconciliations or civil settlements?

The role of the Ombudsman and the Directorate of Internal Investigations in the Ministry of Interior in requests for reconciliation and civil settlement is confined to conveying an opinion to the parties involved in the complaint. Their opinion is not mandatory to either party.

9- Does the Ombudsman guarantee confidentiality while dealing with complaints under investigation?

Yes. Full confidentiality is guaranteed during the investigations and, according to the law, no-one can access or reveal details about them in any way.

10- Do embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions accredited in the Kingdom of Bahrain have the right to file complaints on behalf of the members of the communities they represent?

Yes. Embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions with accredited representation in the Kingdom Bahrain are entitled to file complaints on behalf of members of their communities. However, they are required in such cases to obtain a written consent from the complainant, without prejudice to the inherent right of any expatriate to submit the complaint himself or herself without reference to the embassy that represents him or her.

11- What is the role of the Ombudsman in monitoring the rehabilitation and detention centres?

It is within the competence of the Ombudsman to visit prisons, juvenile care centres, and detention centres to ascertain the legality of the procedures, and that inmates, prisoners and detainees are not subjected to torture or inhuman or derogatory treatment.

In all cases, the Ombudsman is informed without delay about the cases of death that occur in prisons, juvenile care centres and detention centres for appropriate action. The Ombudsman follows the criteria stipulated in the relevant local laws and regulations as well as the international inspection standards in prisons and detention centres.