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Ceartas (Irish Lawyers for Human Rights) is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote the enforcement of human rights standards internationally through legal action.

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Ceartas submits complaint to Int’l Association of Prosecutors urging expulsion of Bahrain Attorney General


Fergal Mawe is Co-Director of Ceartas - Irish Lawyers for Human Rights and works for the Legal Industrial Relations and Equality section of the Irish National Teachers Organisation. Previously he has worked against child trafficking in the Philippines and in private practice with McCarthy Looby & Co Solicitors. 

In recent years, public interest in the human rights situation of the small island Kingdom of Bahrain has grown. Many countries have had to reflect on their relationship with Bahrain following documented human rights violations stemming from the on-going repression of pro-reform protests. Ireland was no different. The conduct of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has been under intense scrutiny given its high-profile presence on the island. In a report published today (15 April 2013), Ceartas, Irish Lawyers for Human Rights, has taken action on another link in an effort to promote positive change in Bahrain.

The former Irish Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr James Hamilton, is the current president of the International Association of Prosecutors. Bahrain’s Attorney General, Dr Ali bin Fadhel Al-Buainain, is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP). In the light of the well-documented and systematic failure to respect and protect human rights in Bahrain, our report,  submitted as a legal complaint to Mr. Hamilton, calls for the expulsion of Bahrain from the IAP.

A call for democratic and political reform

On Monday, 14 February 2011, activists in Bahrain began months of largely peaceful protest against the ruling al-Khalifa regime.  Drawing on the wider protest movements across the Middle East, these activists made renewed calls for social justice through political reform and were met with arrest and prosecution through military and civilian courts. Human rights violations against protesters included arbitrary arrest and detention and the use of torture endured.

On 29 June 2011, the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry was established by His Majesty, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The Commission was made up of a number of international figures and was tasked with investigating and reporting on the events that unfolded from February 2011. In response to the Commission’s publication of a 500 page report in November 2011, the Bahraini Government promised to implement recommendations for reform of the justice system. However, minimal reforms have failed to provide justice for the victims of police and army brutality.

The Attorney General’s breach of international standards

Our legal analysis found that the Attorney General, Dr Ali bin Fadhel Al-Buainain as head of the Bahraini office of Public Prosecution, oversaw unlawful prosecutions, failed to ensure fair trials and failed to properly investigate or prosecute cases involving torture. Specifically, we show how Dr. Ali bin Fadhel Al-Buainain continues to oversee the prosecution of individuals for expressing political opinions and for engaging in political protest. Many people have been denied access to justice in the absence of due process and fair trial procedures. Our report also demonstrates that the Office of Public Prosecution is incapable of impartial investigation into the use of torture.

The International Association of Prosecutors

Established by the United Nations in 1995, the International Association of Prosecutors is the only global non-governmental organisation representing prosecutors. Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, it is committed to setting and raising standards of professional conduct and ethics for prosecutors worldwide by promoting the rule of law, fairness, impartiality, human rights and international co-operation to combat crime. Today it has some 145 members from over 96 different countries including the departments of Public Prosecution in Ireland and Bahrain.

Demand for action

The IAP has clear standards in relation to public prosecution and international human rights law. Ceartas believes if these are to mean anything, then the head of the association, former Irish DPP, Mr James Hamilton must act to uphold them. We therefore call upon Mr Hamilton and his IAP associates to expel the Bahraini Attorney General and demonstrate that the IAP does not accept members who contradict the very objectives and standards it promotes. Failing this, the IAP would put itself into disrepute and undermine its international reputation in the setting of standards of prosecution.

Support for Ceartas action

The report is supported by Irish and international human rights organisations each of whom have written to the IAP expressing their desire for this complaint to be given due consideration and action taken against Bahrain's Attorney General. Those supporting this Ceartas action include the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Front Line Defenders, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights,  Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in BahrainCanadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

NEWS RELEASE (International Media).pdf

NEWS RELEASE (Irish Media).pdf


We welcome contributions which might further our understanding of ways in which the protection of human rights and the promotion of accountability can be achieved through legal action or other non-traditional approaches, for example, through the use of soft law mechanisms. If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please contact our blog editor Michelle Farrell, Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool,


  • Guest
    Sean McNally Monday, 15 April 2013

    Well done, Ceartas. About time someone called these people to account. The best of luck with your action.

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