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Constitution of Bahrain (2002)

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4In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

5Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain

6Foreword to the Constitution

7In the name of God on high, and with His Blessing, and with His help, we Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sovereign of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in line with our determination, certainty, faith, and awareness of our national, pan-Arab and international Responsibilities; and in acknowledgment of our obligations to God, our obligations to the homeland and the citizens, and our commitment to fundamental principles and our responsibility to Mankind.

8And in implementation of the popular will expressed in the principles enshrined in the National Action Charter; pursuant to the authority entrusted to us by our great people to amend the Constitution; out of our desire to complete the requirements of the democratic system of government for our beloved nation; striving for a better future in which the homeland and the citizen will enjoy greater welfare, progress, development, stability and prosperity through earnest and constructive cooperation between government and citizens which will remove the obstacles to progress; and out of a conviction that the future and working for the future is what all of us seek in the coming state; and in view of our belief that such an objective requires the exertion of efforts; and in order to complete the march, we have amended the existing Constitution.

9This amendment has taken account of all the lofty values and the great human principles enshrined in the National Action Charter. These values and principles confirm that the people of Bahrain surge ahead in their triumphant march towards a bright future, God willing, a future in which the efforts of all parties and individuals unite, and the authorities in their new garb devote themselves to achieve the hopes and aspirations under his tolerant rule, declaring their adherence to Islam as a faith, a code of laws and a way of life, with their affiliation to the great Arab nation, and their association with the Gulf Cooperation Council now and in the future, and their striving for everything that will achieve justice, good and peace for the whole of Mankind.

10The amendments to the Constitution proceed from the premise that the noble people of Bahrain believe that Islam brings salvation in this world and the next, and that Islam means neither inertness nor fanaticism but explicitly states that wisdom is the goal of the believer wherever he finds it he should take it, and that the Qur’an has been remiss in nothing.

11In order to achieve this goal, it is essential that we listen and look to the whole of the human heritage in both East and West, adopting that which we consider to be beneficial and suitable and consistent with our religion, values and traditions and is appropriate to our circumstances, in the conviction that social and human systems are not inflexible tools and instruments which can be moved unchanged from place to place, but are messages conveyed to the mind, spirit and conscience of man and are influenced by his reactions and their circumstances of his society.

12Thus these constitutional amendments are representative of the advanced cultural thought of our beloved nation. They base our political system on a constitutional monarchy founded on counsel [shura], which in Islam is the highest model for governance, and on the people’s participation in the exercise of power, which is the foundation of modern political thought. The Ruler, with his perspicacity, chooses certain experienced people to constitute the Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura), and the aware, free and loyal people choose through elections those who make up the Chamber of Deputies (Majlis al-Nuwwab), and thus the two chambers together achieve the popular will represented by the National Assembly (Al-Majlis al-Watani).

13These constitutional amendments undoubtedly reflect the joint will of the King and the people, and achieve for everyone the lofty ideals and the great humanitarian principles contained in the National Action Charter, and ensure that the people will advance to the high position for which their ability and preparedness qualify them, and which accords with the greatness of their history, and allows them to occupy their appropriate place among the civilized nations of the world.

14This Constitution that we have promulgated contains the amendments that have carried out in accordance with the provisions of the National Action Charter and that complement all the unamended texts.

15We have attached an explanation memorandum which will be used to explain its judgement.

16Chapter I. The State

17Article 1

18a. The Kingdom of Bahrain is fully sovereign, independent Islamic Arab State whose population is part of the Arab nation and whose territory is part of the great Arab homeland. Its sovereignty may not be assigned or any of its territory abandoned.

19b. The regime of the Kingdom of Bahrain is that of a hereditary constitutional monarchy, which has been handed down by the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa to his eldest son Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King. Then forward it will pass to his eldest son, one generation after another, unless the King in his lifetime appoints a son other than his eldest son as successor, in accordance with the provisions of the Decree on inheritance stated in the following clause.

20c. All provisions governing inheritance are regulated by a special Royal Decree that will have a constitutional character, and which can only be amended under the provisions of Article 120 of the Constitution.

21d. The system of government in the Kingdom of Bahrain is democratic, sovereignty being in the hands of the people, the source of all powers. Sovereignty shall be exercised in the manner stated in this Constitution.

22e. Citizens, both men and women, are entitled to participate in public affairs and may enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and to stand for elections, in accordance with this Constitution and the conditions and principles laid down by law. No citizen can be deprived of the right to vote or to nominate oneself for elections except by law.

23f. This Constitution may be amended only partly, and in the manner provided herein.

24Article 2

25The religion of the State is Islam. The Islamic Shari’a is a principal source for legislation. The official language is Arabic.

26Article 3

27The State flag, emblem, logos, honors and national anthem are laid down by law.

28Chapter II. Basic Constituents of Society

29Article 4

30Justice is the basis of government. Cooperation and mutual respect provide a firm bond between citizens. Freedom, equality, security, trust, knowledge, social solidarity and equality of opportunity for citizens are pillars of society guaranteed by the State.

31Article 5

32a. The family is the basis of society, deriving its strength from religion, morality and love of the homeland. The law preserves its lawful entity, strengthens its bonds and values, under its aegis extends protection to mothers and children, tends the young and protects them from exploitation and safeguards them against moral, bodily and spiritual neglect. The State cares in particular for the physical, moral and intellectual development of the young.

33b. The State guarantees reconciling the duties of women towards the family with their work in society, and their equality with men in political, social, cultural, and economic spheres without breaching the provisions of Islamic canon law (Shari’a).

34c. The State guarantees the requisite social security for its citizens in old age, sickness, disability, orphanhood, widowhood or unemployment, and also provides them with social insurance and health care services. It strives to safeguard them against ignorance, fear and poverty.

35d. Inheritance is a guaranteed right governed by the Islamic Shari’a.

36Article 6

37The State safeguards the Arab and Islamic heritage. It contributes to the advancement of human civilization and strives to strengthen the bonds between the Islamic countries, and to achieve the aspirations of the Arab nation for unity and progress.

38Article 7

39a. The State sponsors the sciences, humanities and the arts, and encourages scientific research. The State also guarantees educational and cultural services to its citizens. Education is compulsory and free in the early stages as specified and provided by law. The necessary plan to combat illiteracy is laid down by law.

40b. The law regulates care for religious and national instruction in the various stages and forms of education, and at all stages is concerned to develop the citizen’s personality and his pride in his Arabism.

41c. Individuals and bodies may establish private schools and universities under the supervision of the state and in accordance with the law.

42d. The State guarantees the inviolability of the places of learning.

43Article 8

44a. Every citizen is entitled to health care. The State cares for public health and the State ensures the means of prevention and treatment by establishing a variety of hospitals and health care institutions.

45b. Individuals and bodies may establish private hospitals, clinics or treatment centers under the supervision of the State in accordance with the law.

46Article 9

47a. Ownership, capital and work—in accordance with the principles of Islamic justice— are basic constituents of the social entity of the State and the national wealth, and are all individual rights with a social function regulated by law.

48b. Public funds are inviolate, and it is the duty of every citizen to protect them.

49c. Private ownership is protected. No one shall be prevented from disposing of his property within the limits of the law. No one shall be dispossessed of his property except for the public good in the cases specified and the manner stated by law and provided that he is fairly compensated.

50d. Public expropriation of funds is prohibited, and private expropriation shall be a penalty only by judicial ruling in the cases prescribed by law.

51e. The relationship between the owners of land and real estate and their tenants shall be regulated by law on economic principles while observing social justice.

52f. The State shall endeavor to provide housing for citizens with limited income.

53g. The State shall make the necessary arrangements to ensure the exploitation of land suitable for productive farming, and shall strive to raise the standards of farmers. The law lays down how small farmers are to be helped and how they can own their land.

54h. The State shall take the necessary measures for the protection of the environment and the conversation of wildlife.

55Article 10

56a. The national economy is based on social justice, and it is strengthened by fair cooperation between public and private business. Its objective, within the limits of the law, is economic development according to a well-ordered plan and achievement of prosperity for the citizens, all within the bounds of the law.

57b. The State endeavors to achieve the economic union of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and the states of the Arab League, and everything that leads to rapproachment, cooperation, coordination and mutual assistance among them.

58Article 11

59All natural wealth and resources are State property. The State shall safeguard them and exploit them properly, while observing the requirements of the security of the State and of the national economy.

60Article 12

61The State guarantees the common liability of society in bearing the burdens arising from public disasters and ordeals, and for compensating those affected by war damage or as a result of performing their military duties.

62Article 13

63a. Work is the duty of every citizen, is required by personal dignity and is dictated by the public good. Every citizen has the right to work and to choose the type of work within the bounds of public order and decency.

64b. The State guarantees the provision of job opportunities for its citizens and the fairness of work conditions.

65c. Compulsory work cannot be imposed on any person except in the cases specified by law for national exigency and for a fair consideration, or pursuant to a judicial ruling.

66d. The law regulates the relationship between employees and employers on economic basis while observing social justice.

67Article 14

68The State encourages cooperation and saving, and supervises the regulation of credit.

69Article 15

70a. Taxes and public costs are based on social justice, and their payment is a duty under the law.

71b. The law regulates exemption of low incomes from taxes in order to ensure that a minimum standard of living is safeguarded.

72Article 16

73a. Public jobs are a national service entrusted to their incumbents, and State employees shall have the public interest in mind when performing their jobs. Foreigners shall not be entrusted with public posts except in those cases specified by law.

74b. Citizens are equal in the assumption of public posts in accordance with the conditions specified by law.

75Chapter III. Public Rights and Duties

76Article 17

77a. Bahraini nationality shall be determined by law. A person inherently enjoying his Bahraini nationality cannot be stripped of his nationality except in case of treason, and such other cases as prescribed by law.

78b. It is prohibited to banish a citizen from Bahrain or prevent him from returning to it.

79Article 18

80People are equal in human dignity, and citizens are equal before the law in public rights and duties. There shall be no discrimination among them on the basis of sex, origin, language, religion or creed.

81Article 19

82a. Personal freedom is guaranteed under the law.

83b. A person cannot be arrested, detained, imprisoned or searched, or his place of residence specified or his freedom of residence or movement restricted, except under the provisions of the law and under judicial supervision.

84c. A person cannot be detained or imprisoned in locations other than those designated in the prison regulations covered by health and social care and subject to control by the judicial authority.

85d. No person shall be subjected to physical or mental torture, or inducement, or undignified treatment, and the penalty for so doing shall be specified by law. Any statement or confession proved to have been made under torture, inducement, or such treatment, or the threat thereof, shall be null and void.

86Article 20

87a. There shall be no crime and no punishment except under a law, and punishment only for acts committed subsequent to the effective date of the law providing for the same.

88b. Punishment is personal.

89c. An accused person is innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial in which he is assured of the necessary guarantees to exercise the right of defence at all stages of the investigation and trial in accordance with the law.

90d. It is forbidden to harm an accused person physically or mentally.

91e. Every person accused of an offense must have lawyer to defend him with his consent.

92f. The right to litigate is guaranteed under the law.

93Article 21

94The extradition of political refugees is prohibited.

95Article 22

96Freedom of conscience is absolute. The State guarantees the inviolability of worship, and the freedom to perform religious rites and hold religious parades and meetings in accordance with the customs observed in the country.

97Article 23

98Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed. Everyone has the right to express his opinion and publish it by word of mouth, in writing or otherwise under the rules and conditions laid down by law, provided that the fundamental beliefs of Islamic doctrine are not infringed, the unity of the people is not prejudiced, and discord or sectarianism is not aroused.

99Article 24

100With due regard for the provisions of the preceding Article, the freedom of the press, printing and publishing is guaranteed under the rules and conditions laid down by law.

101Article 25

102Dwellings are inviolate. They cannot be entered or searched without the permission of their occupants exception in cases of maximum necessity as laid down and in the manner provided by law.

103Article 26

104The freedom of postal, telegraphic, telephonic and electronic communication is safeguarded and its confidentiality is guaranteed. Communications shall not be censored or their confidentiality breached except in exigencies specified by law and in accordance with procedures and under guarantees prescribed by law.

105Article 27

106The freedom to form associations and unions on national principles, for lawful objectives and by peaceful means is guaranteed under the rules and conditions laid down by law, provided that the fundamentals of the religion and public order are not infringed. No one can be forced to join any association or union or to continue as a member.

107Article 28

108a. Individuals are entitled to assemble privately without a need for permission or prior notice, and no member of the security forces may attend their private meetings.

109b. Public meetings, parades and assemblies are permitted under the rules and conditions laid down by law, but the purposes and means of the meeting must be peaceful and must not be prejudicial to public decency.

110Article 29

111Any individual may address the public authorities in writing over his signature. Group approaches to the authorities may only be made by statutory bodies and corporate persons.

112Article 30

113a. Peace is the objective of the State. The safety of the nation is part of the safety of the Arab homeland as a whole, and its defense is a sacred duty of every citizen. Performance of military service is an honor for citizens and is regulated by law.

114b. Only the State may establish the Defense Force, National Guard, and Public Security services. Non-citizens are assigned such tasks only in case of maximum necessity and in the manner prescribed by law.

115c. General or partial mobilization shall be regulated by law.

116Article 31

117The public rights and freedoms stated in this Constitution may only be regulated or limited by or in accordance with the law, and such regulation or limitation may not prejudice the essence of the right or freedom.

118Chapter IV. Public Authorities

119General Provisions

120Article 32

121a. The system of government rests on a separation of the legislative, executive and judicial authorities while maintaining cooperation between them in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. None of the three authorities may assign all or part of its powers stated in this Constitution. However, limited legislative delegation for a particular period and specific subject(s) is permissible, whereupon the powers shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the Delegation Law.

122b. Legislative authority is vested in the King and the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution. Executive authority is vested in the King together with the Council of Ministers and Ministers, and judicial rulings are issued in his name, the whole being in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

123Section 1. The King

124Article 33

125a. The King is Head of State, and its nominal representative, and his person is inviolate. He is the loyal protector of the religion and the homeland, and the symbol of national unity.

126b. The King safeguards the legitimacy of the government and the supremacy of the Constitution and the law, and cares for the rights and freedoms of individuals and organizations.

127c. The King exercises his powers directly and through his Ministers. Ministers are jointly answerable to him for general government policy, and each Minister is answerable for the business of his Ministry.

128d. The King appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister by Royal Order, and appoints and dismisses Ministers by Royal Decree as proposed by the Prime Minister.

129e. The Cabinet Shall be re-formed as aforesaid in this article at the state of each legislative season of the National Assembly.

130f. The King appoints and dismisses members of the Consultative Council by Royal Order.

131g. The King is the Supreme Commander of the Defence Force. He commands it and charges it with national tasks within the homeland and outside it. The Defence Force is directly linked to the King, and maintains the necessary secrecy in its affairs.

132h. The King chairs the Higher Judicial Council. The King appoints judges by Royal Orders, as proposed by the Higher Judicial Council.

133i. The King awards honors and decorations in accordance with the law.

134j. The King establishes, grants and withdraws civilian and military ranks and other honorary titles by Royal Order, and can delegate others to carry out these functions on his behalf.

135k. The currency is issued in the name of the King in accordance with the law.

136l. On ascending the throne, the King takes the following oath at a special meeting of the National Assembly:

137“I swear by Almighty God that I shall respect the Constitution and the laws of the State, that I shall defend the freedoms, interests and assets of the people, and that I shall safeguard the independence of the nation and the integrity of its territories.”

138m. The Royal Court is attached to the King. A Royal Order shall be issued to regulate it. Its budget and the rules for the budget’s control are set by a special Royal Decree.

139Article 34

140a. In the event of his absence abroad and the inability of the Crown Prince to act for him, the King shall appoint a Deputy by Royal Order to exercise his powers during his period of absence. This Order may include a special regulation for the exercise of these powers on his behalf or may limit their scope.

141b. The conditions and provisions of Clause (b) of Article 48 of this Constitution shall apply to the King’s Deputy. If he is a Minister or a member of the Consultative Council or the Chamber of Deputies, he shall not participate in ministerial or parliamentary business during the period he deputizes for the King.

142c. Before exercising his powers, the King’s Deputy shall take the oath prescribed in the preceding Article, including the phrase: “and I shall be loyal to the King.” The oath shall be taken in the National Assembly, and if not it shall be taken before the King.

143The Crown Prince shall take this oath once, even if he deputizes for the King a number of times.

144Article 35

145a. The King may amend the Constitution, propose laws, and is the authority for their ratification and promulgation.

146b. A law shall be deemed ratified and the King shall promulgate it if six months have elapsed from the date on which it was submitted to him by the Consultative Council and Chamber of Deputies without it being returned to these Chambers for reconsideration.

147c. With due regard for the provisions pertaining to amendment of the Constitution, if within the interval prescribed in the preceding clause the King returns to the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies for reconsideration the draft of any law by way of Decree in justification, he shall state whether it should be reconsidered in that same session or the next.

148d. If the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies, or the National Assembly, re-approve the draft by a majority of two-thirds of their members, the King shall ratify it, and shall promulgate it within one month of its approval for the second time.

149Article 36

150a. Aggressive war is forbidden. A defensive war is declared by a Decree which shall be presented to the National Assembly immediately upon its declaration, for a decision on the conduct of the war.

151b. A state of national safety or martial law shall be proclaimed only by Decree. In all cases, martial law cannot be proclaimed for a period exceeding three months. This period may not be renewed except with the consent of the majority of the members of the National Assembly present.

152Article 37

153The King shall conclude treaties by Decree, and shall communicate them to the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies forthwith accompanied by the appropriate statement. A treaty shall have the force of law once it has been concluded and ratified and published in the Official Gazette.

154However, peace treaties and treaties of alliance, treaties relating to State territory, natural resources, rights of sovereignty, the public and private rights of citizens, treaties pertaining to commerce, shipping and residence, and treaties which involve the State Exchequer in non-budget expenditure or which entail amendment of the laws of Bahrain, must be promulgated by law to be valid.

155Under no circumstances may a treaty include secret clauses which conflict with those openly declared.

156Article 38

157If between the convening of both the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies sessions, or during the period in which the National Assembly is in recess, any event should occur that requires expediting the adoption of measures that brook no delay, the King may issue relevant Decrees that have the force of law, provided they do not contravene the Constitution.

158Such Decrees must be referred to both the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies within one month from their promulgation if the two chambers are in session, or within a month of the first meeting of each of the two new chambers in the event of dissolution or if the legislative term had ended. If the Decrees are not so referred, their legal force shall abate retrospectively without a need to issue a relevant ruling. If they are referred to the two chambers but are not confirmed by them their legal force shall also abate retrospectively.

159Article 39

160a. The King shall lay down the regulations for implementation of the laws, by Decrees which shall not include amendment or suspension of those laws or exception from their implementation. The law may prescribe a lower instrument than a Decree for promulgation of the regulations necessary for their implementation.

161b. The King shall lay down the control regulations and the regulations necessary for the organization of public directorates and departments, by Decrees in a manner which does not conflict with the laws.

162Article 40

163The King shall appoint and dismiss civil servants, military personnel, and political representatives in foreign States and with international organizations, within the bounds and on the conditions prescribed by law, and shall accredit the representatives of foreign States and organizations.

164Article 41

165The King may abate or commute a sentence by Decree. A total amnesty may be granted only by law, and shall apply to offenses committed before the amnesty was proposed.

166Article 42

167a. The King shall issue the Orders for elections to the Chamber of Deputies in accordance with the provisions of the law.

168b. The King shall invite the National Assembly to convene by Royal Order, and shall open its proceedings and bring them a close in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

169c. The King is entitled to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies by a Decree that states the reasons for the dissolution. The Chamber cannot be dissolved for the same reasons once again.

170Article 43

171The King may conduct a popular referendum on important laws and issues connected with the interests of the State. The issue on which the referendum has been held is considered to have been agreed upon if approved by a majority of those who cast their votes. The result of the referendum shall be binding on all and effective from the date it is declared, and it shall be published in the Official Gazette.

172Section 2. The Executive Authority

173Part 1. Council of Ministers—Ministers

174Article 44

175The Council of Ministers shall consist of the Prime Minister and a number of Ministers.

176Article 45

177a. The incumbent of a Ministry must be a Bahraini, aged not less than 30 years by the Gregorian Calendar and must enjoy full political and civil rights. Unless otherwise provided, the provisions pertaining to Ministers apply also to the Prime Minister.

178b. The salaries of the Prime Minister and Ministers shall be laid down by law.

179Article 46

180Before exercising their powers, the Prime Minister and Ministers shall take the oath prescribed in Article 78 of this Constitution before the King.

181Article 47

182a. The Council of Ministers shall oversee State interests, lay down and follow through the implementation of general government policy, and supervise the course of business in the Government apparatus.

183b. The King shall chair those meetings of the Council of Ministers which he attends.

184c. The Prime Minister shall supervise performance of the tasks of the Council of Ministers and the course of its business, implement its decisions and coordinate between the various Ministries and integrate their business.

185d. Relinquishment by the Prime Minister of his position for any reason shall entail removal of all Ministers from their posts.

186e. The deliberations of the Council of Ministers shall be confidential. Its decisions shall be adopted when a majority of its members attend and there is a majority of those attending in favor. In the event of a tied vote, the side on which the Prime Minister’s vote is cast shall prevail. The minority shall abide by the opinion of the majority unless they resign. Council decisions shall be submitted to the King for approval in cases where issue of a relevant Decree is required.

187Article 48

188a. Each minister shall supervise the affairs of his Ministry and implement the general government policy in that Ministry. He shall also decide the orientation of the Ministry and supervise the putting of it into practice.

189b. While in charge of his Ministry, a Minister may not assume any other public office, nor may he even indirectly practice a profession or conduct industrial, commercial or financial business, nor may he participate in contracts concluded by the Government or public institutions, or combine his ministerial position with the membership of the board of directors of any company except as a non-remunerated Government representative. Also during this period the Minister may not purchase or rent a State asset even by way of public auction, nor may he lease, sell, or barter any of his assets to the State.

190Article 49

191If the Prime Minister or the Minister relinquishes his position for any reason, he shall continue to discharge urgent business of his function until a successor is appointed.

192Article 50

193a. The law shall regulate public institutions and municipal departmental bodies so as to ensure their independence under State direction and supervision. The law shall ensure the municipal departmental bodies an administer and oversee the services that have a local character and are within their area.

194b. The State shall direct public welfare institutions for the public good in a manner consistent with general State policy and the interest of its citizens.

195Section 3. The Legislative Authority National Assembly

196Article 51

197The National Assembly consists of two Chambers: the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies.

198Part 1. The Consultative Council

199Article 52

200The Consultative Council is composed of forty members appointed by Royal Order.

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