Bahrain training scheme launch amid rights concerns

A Manama development agency has cut a deal with a law firm to provide legal training for local graduates in a bid to boost indigenous involvement in the country's legal profession.

Pearl Roundabout, Manama

But the move comes against the backdrop of mounting international concern over the rule of law in the country, as civil unrest and pro-democracy demonstrations increase.

Training programme

Enterprise development scheme Tamkeen announced within the last few days that it had signed a training pact with the law firm Newton Legal Group for the training of 10 new Bahraini law graduates.
According to Middle East news web site AME Info, the agreement targets new Bahraini law graduates with less than three years’ working experience.
With help from Newton – which, according to local media reports, works with several Bahraini government departments -- the training programme will offer opportunities to deal with various ministries, semi-governmental institutions, and private companies.
The role of local graduates in the rapidly expanding Persian Gulf legal sector is a delicate issue. The huge influx of global law firms to the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as resulted in only a small number of local Arab professionals joining their ranks, with issues around education and training inhibiting their progression.

Career ambitions

Tamkeen chief executive Mahmood Hashem Al-Kooheji commented: ‘The agreement is in line with our mission to train Bahrainis and arm them with the skills that help them realise their objectives and fulfil their career ambitions. We are pleased to partner with such a prestigious international law firm to give a group of promising Bahraini lawyers the opportunity to advance in the ever-growing legal profession and effectively contribute to the growth of the national economy.’
Joseph Huse, Newton Legal Group general manager, added: ‘Legal affairs play a significant role in supporting modern economies and it is extremely important to have trained national professionals within this field. Therefore, we look forward to cooperating with Tamkeen to develop local talents in this profession.’

Torture and force

The move coincides with growing international concern over human rights violations in the Bahrain as well as a resurgence of civil unrest in the country. Only a week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on criticism from the head of the official investigation into last year’s demonstrations. Egyptian-born human rights lawyer Cherif Bassiouni slammed the Manama rulers for, according to the Journal, ‘torturing detainees and using excessive force against protesters. Indeed, the newspaper quoted Mr Bassiouni as claiming the country is currently in a worse human rights position than it was a year ago.

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