13 January 2012 IAA
A large number of the Bahraini employees and students dismissed for speech related activity during the unrest of February and March 2011 have been reinstated. Around 400 students had been reinstated in December, including students who are awaiting trial for felony crimes but have not yet been convicted.
All the public sector employees had been reinstated at the beginning of January. This week, private sector employers F-1 and BATELCO announced that they will also take back dismissed workers. Since the end of November, when the BICI released its report, the government through the Ministry of Labor has been in high-level discussions with private sector employers with regard to dismissed employees, and recommended that BATELCO and other private employers reinstate employees.
As a result, BATELCO announced that it would be reinstating 102 staff; and then earlier this week the F-1 announced it would also be taking back previously suspended workers. The reinstatements are part of the government's commitment to implement in full the BICI recommendations.
Last month, the government changed its laws to ensure that individual freedom of speech and assembly is respected. All prosecutions involving speech crimes have been dropped and all forms of speech, except that which incites violence, have been decriminalized.
These amendments make Bahrain one of the most progressive countries when it comes to promoting and protecting free speech. As a related further initiative, the government decided to reinstate all of its employees and students that had been dismissed for speech activity and has been encouraging private sector employers to do the same.
The government will continue to encourage other private sector employees to follow the lead of BATELCO and F-1 to reinstate dismissed employees.