ILO demands the release of Abu Deeb: Bahrain Government should investigate in anti-union discrimination

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SHAFAQNA –  The International Labour Organization’s Committee on Freedom of Association deplored that the investigations into the allegations of torture and mistreatment of the president and vice-president of the Bahrain Teachers Association, Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman, have not yet been concluded. The committee also called for the release of Abu Dheeb and demanded that Bahraini laws be amended in order to ensure the effective implementation of freedom of association rights.

During the 323rd session of the ILO governing body, the organization discussed a number of cases, including reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association, which addressed the complaint against the Government of Bahrain presented by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU).

The complainants allege serious violations of freedom of association, including massive dismissals of members and leaders of the GFBTU following their participation in a general strike in March 2011 in defense of workers’ socio-economic interests, after the 2011 protests, as well as threats to the personal safety of trade union leaders, arrests, harassment, persecution and intimidation, as well as interference in the GFBTU’s internal affairs.

At its March 2014 meeting, the committee made recommendations concerning this case. During its recent meeting in Geneva on 12-27 March 2015, the committee recalled that this case concerns grave allegations of widespread arrest, torture, dismissals, intimidation and harassment of trade union members and leaders.

In regards to the Bahraini government’s indication that the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Jalila Al-Salman and Abu Dheeb while in detention are still under investigation, the Committee deplored that nearly four years after the allegations have been made, the investigations have not yet been concluded. It urged the Bahraini government to expedite these investigations and emphasizes that in cases of alleged torture or ill-treatment while in detention, governments should carry out inquiries into complaints of this kind so that appropriate measures, including compensation for damages suffered and the sanctioning of those responsible, are taken to ensure that no detainee is subjected to such treatment. The committee also requested the government to inform it of the results of the investigations without delay.

The ILO committee stated that it “regrets that no information has been provided by the government on the outcome of the appeals brought by these trade unionists before the Court of Cassation. It therefore once again requests the government to provide copies of the court judgments, including on appeal, in their cases. It further requests the government to ensure that Abu Dheeb is immediately released should it be found that he has been detained for the exercise of legitimate trade union activity and to keep it informed in this respect.”

The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association made mention that it has been commenting upon the need to amend the Trade Union Act and the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 62 of 2006 for several years now. Bearing in mind the government’s commitment in the tripartite agreement to work on the possibility of ratifying Conventions Nos 87 and 98, the committee reiterated its former request made in the framework of Case No. 2552 and said it expects that the resulting amendments will bring Bahraini law and practice into conformity with freedom of association principles. The committee stated “it also expects that the government will take steps, without delay, for specific legislative provisions to ensure effective implementation of the freedom of association rights of domestic workers.”

As for allegations concerning anti-union acts, the ILO committee recalled that the Bahraini government is responsible for preventing all acts of anti-union discrimination and it must ensure that complaints of anti-union discrimination are examined in the framework of national procedures which should be prompt, impartial and considered as such by the parties concerned. The committee said that it “therefore reiterates its previous request and further invites the government to solicit information from the employers’ organization concerned on these allegations so that its views, as well as those of the enterprises concerned, may be made available to the committee.”

In light of its foregoing interim conclusions, the committee listed the following recommendations:

(a)    Deploring that nearly four years after the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Jalila Al-Salman and Abu Dheeb while in detention have been made, the investigations have not yet been concluded, the committee urges the government to expedite these investigations and to inform it of the results without delay.

(b)   Bearing in mind the government’s commitment in the tripartite agreement to work on the possibility of ratifying Conventions Nos 87 and 98, the government expects that the amendments to the Trade Union Act and the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 62 of 2006 will be made in the very near future and that they will bring Bahraini law and practice into conformity with freedom of association principles.

(c)    The committee requests the government to conduct inquiries without delay into the allegations of anti-union discrimination and interference in trade union affairs in the following companies: ALBA, BAS, ASRY, GARMCO, BATELCO, BAPCO, BAFCO, Gulf Air, Yokogawa Middle East, KANOO cars and Sphynx cleaning. It further requests the government to provide information on the outcome of these inquiries.

Source : Bahrain Mirror

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