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Mon 2 Mar 2015 02:03 PM

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Bahrain set to introduce 'sweeping' penal reform

Major amendments are announced to Bahrain’s 40-year-old Penal Code - report

Bahrain set to introduce 'sweeping' penal reform

Bahrain has approved what commentators are calling the most sweeping reforms of its criminal law in almost 50 years.

Major amendments to Bahrain’s 40-year-old Penal Code, including tougher punishments for manslaughter and defamation, were approved by the Shura Council on Sunday.

The Gulf Daily News says that, if ratified by the King, the changes would “bring about be the most sweeping reforms of Bahrain's criminal law in almost half a century”.

It quotes Shura foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairwoman Sawsan Taqawi as saying: “The punishments that were tough in 1976 are not tough anymore and changes are necessary to ensure justice.”

Under the amendments, state employees face the same penalties for bribery as those working in the private sector.

Those who insult parliament, the Shura Council, security forces, judges or the 'public interest’ face jail, and publicly encouraging others to defame someone carries a sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to BD300. Publishing the defamation in local media will result in a more severe punishment, to be determined in court.

And jail sentences for manslaughter would triple under the new rules, to three years for those convicted of the crime, five years if there are multiple victims and up to 10 years if it was caused by negligence on the part of a government employee.

The amendments will now be studied again by parliament following revisions by the Shura council, reports the newspaper.

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