Human Rights and Social Development Ministry/ Statement
Dec 27, 2011

Manama-Dec22 (BNA) The Human Rights and Social Development Ministry yesterday defended its decision to cancel the results of the Bahrain Bar Society elections.

It hit back at the Human Rights Watch, which issued a statement dated December 20, 2011, under the title “Bahrain: End Take Over of Lawyers’ Group. Revoke Order Cancelling Election Results”. The ministry dismissed the HRW statement as inaccurate, adding that watchdog did not report to the official authorities (Human Rights and Social Development Ministry) to inquire about the reasons underlying the cancelation of the BBS election results.

It deplored the concepts cited in the statement which probably reflect individual and unprofessional stances. It also urged professionalism in issuing such statement to promote the respect of human rights. In a statement issued tonight, the ministry pointed out that association boards are elected for a renewable two-year term and not one year, in line with the law decree (21) for 1989. The regular annual meeting convenes the period between January and March, at the conclusion of the fiscal year ending December 31.

The role of the ministry is restricted to supervising the associations and civil society institutions to ensure their adherence to the above-mentioned law and preserve the members’ rights without meddling in the NGOs’ professional work. The ministry denied allegations the elections were held in accordance with the law, questioning the legality of the procedures undertaken by the BBS, which led to the cancellation of meeting held on November 26 and the abrogation of the decisions undertaken then, including the board elections. The officials in charge of BBS failed to adhere to article 29 of the law 21 for 1989 which stipulates that the general assembly includes only members who met the financial obligations and who have a six-month membership at least.

“The BBS meeting can’t be convened for lack of accurate lists of members to decide whether the legal quorum has been reached and approve the accuracy of the decisions, including the board elections results”, the statement said. The ministry defended its decision to cancel the election results for failure to abide by the articles 32 and 33 of the above-mentioned law decree. The article 32 stipulates that administrative authorities shall be informed about the scheduled meeting, at least 15 days in advance, something which the BBS failed to do. The ministry said that it sent several correspondences to the BBS and held a meeting with its chairperson to ensure the legality of all procedures for the general assembly to be convened provide the technical assistance and gauge any shortcomings.

The BBS officials failed to supply the ministry with updated lists of members to ensure the legality of the elections results. The ministry rejected insinuations that it was using the same systematic measures against the Bahrain Human Rights Society, the Bahrain medical Society and the now-dissolved Bahrain teachers’ Society. “The Human Rights and Social Development Ministry addresses each case separately, being an administrative party”, it said in the statement. The ministry urged the watchdog to ensure the true reasons underlying the cancellation of the elections results not to encroach on the rights of other members.”The minister has the prerogative to ensure the rights of all members to run and vote”, the statement said.