Charter is great shift in process of reform, freedoms, sustainable development

Manama, Feb. 13: Information Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al Romaihi has lauded the democratic achievement, human rights freedoms and steady integrated development emanating from the National Action Charter throughout the 18 years since its approval in a popular referendum as part of the reform process launched by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Al Romaihi extended congratulations and best wishes to His Majesty King Hamad, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, and the people of Bahrain on the auspicious 18th anniversary of the National Action Charter.

The minister stressed that the constitutional amendments ensuing from the National Action Charter had launched a new era of political and democratic reform within the framework of modern constitutional monarchy, the rule of law based on justice and transparency, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers and their cooperation in accordance with the Constitution.

They also resulted in the guarantee of public and personal freedoms and equal rights and duties, freedom of scientific, cultural, professional associations and trade unions on a national basis, the consolidation of economic freedom, the diversification of the sources of income, and the protection of the environment and wildlife.

He also praised the quadrennial parliamentary and municipal elections that have been held regularly since 2002 in full integrity and transparency under judicial supervision and with a high turnout that reached 67 per cent in the last polls.

The minister also lauded the exercise of legislative power in the parliament, including the recent discussion of the Government Action Plan and its endorsement in accordance with the constitutional process.

The role of elected municipal councils in the development of public services and facilities was also highlighted by the minister.

Al Romaihi appreciated the effective presence of Bahraini women in all democracy entitlements, including their membership in the Committee for the Drafting of the Charter, their representation of half of the electoral bloc, 19 per cent of the members of parliament in its fifth legislative term and winning the Speakership of the Council of Representatives.

The Charter has also enhanced the participation of women in the decision-making, holding 23 per cent of the leading positions, 54 per cent of directors, 9 per cent of judges and the presidency of Bahrain Journalists Association. They also have 23 women’s associations and represent 53 per cent of the public labour force.

Women have also been making honorable contributions in various regional and international forums, representing 25 per cent of the diplomatic staff and holding positions in international committees, including the United Nations for Women, thanks to the efforts of the Supreme Council for Women launched in 2001 and headed by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King.

Under the Charter, Bahrain has achieved a qualitative leap in the respect of human rights and freedoms, equality and equal opportunities for all citizens without any discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, origin or belief.

The Kingdom has also moved forward with the modernization of national legislation and procedures in accordance with its adherence to international human rights covenants and declarations.

Thus, the Kingdom established the National Institution for Human Rights, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission, and the Special Investigation Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It also boosted the vibrancy of civil society through some 640 civil and political associations, the protection of the rights of children, workers and persons with disabilities and fighting trafficking in persons.

Al Romaihi expressed pride in ensuring the freedom of the press, media and expression without allowing incitement to religious or sectarian hatred, violence, and terrorism under the constitution, law and national, Arab and international covenants.

He praised the steady growth of the media during the reform process to 43 daily, five television channels and ten radio stations, and strengthening the role of the National Communication Centre in working to unify the government media discourse and effective communication with local and foreign media.

The reforms launched through the Charter in the media sector included the establishment of the Bahrain Journalists Association, the Foreign Media Correspondents Club, the Gulf Press Union, 528 media and technical production companies, and the development of electronic media.

Bahrain ranked first in the Arab world and 31st globally according to the ITU report in 2017, and fourth internationally in the Telecommunications Infrastructure, according to the United Nations e-Government Readiness Report in 2018.

Internet use increased to 96 per cent and users of social media networks to 81 per cent of the total population according to the 2019 World Digital Report.

“Bahrain is moving forward, through cooperation between the executive and legislative branches and partnerships with the private sector, in the implementation of the Government’s Action Plan for 2019-2022 towards enhancing sustainable economic and social security within the framework of fiscal balance and basic principles based on the principles of justice, competitiveness and sustainability.

This approach reinforces its achievements in the field of human development and diversification of income sources, thanks to a modern infrastructure, educational services, health and housing development, raising the efficiency and effectiveness of the government sector, and growth of non-oil sectors to represent 82 per cent of the GDP.

“Bahrain, under the leadership of His Majesty the King, and thanks to its wise policy both internally and externally, has strengthened its pioneering position as a model of good governance, comprehensive and sustainable development, supporting the efforts of the international community in maintaining peace and security, combating extremism and terrorism,” Al Romaihi said.

“It I also consolidating religious tolerance and serving humanity through the establishment of the King Hamad International Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, the King Hamad Chair for Interreligious Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence at the University of Sapienza in Rome, and other initiatives that culminated in its election as a member on the Human Rights Council, amid universal appreciation for its developmental and human rights achievements.”

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