Bahrain restores arrest powers to spies
05 Jan 2017 - 23:20
Dubai: BAHRAIN yesterday announced that it has restored the power of its domestic spy service to make some arrests, reversing a key reform recommended in wake of the crackdown that followed the country’s 2011 Arab Spring protests.
The decree affecting its National Security Agency comes as Bahrain is in midst of a renewed clampdown on dissent. It also follows an armed assault on a prison that killed a police officer and freed 10 inmates.
The decision came in decree, announced by state-run Bahrain News Agency. It described the decision as making arrest powers “limited” to terrorism cases, though it was in fact restoring them.
The royal decree was made “in view of high risk of terror crimes, which necessitates prompt action to thwart plots, halt their impact, gather evidence and arrest the culprits,” the report said.
However, terrorism allegations have been levied against activists and protesters in the past.
Asked why the agency needed arrest power, Bahrain’s government said the kingdom’s “foremost priority is safety and protection of its citizens and residents.”
“The kingdom is fully committed to reform and development, however, as in all countries, laws must be revised and updated given the recent terrorist attack developments in Bahrain,” it said.
Activists warned the move would create an environment that allows security service abuses to flourish.