Middlemen who facilitate bribes could face tougher punishments under a proposed amendment tabled by the Shura Council.
The draft bill proposes an amendment to Article 15 of the 1976 Penal Code to identify, criminalise and punish the act of mediating between those giving and accepting bribes.
It was proposed by the foreign affairs, defence and national security committee as part of efforts to eradicate the phenomenon of bribery and corruption.
According to committee vice-chairwoman Nancy Khedouri, members of the judicial authority have expressed concern about loopholes in the law that allows intermediaries to escape punishment – adding that the role of the mediator needs to be defined more clearly.
“As a country we are members of a number of international agreements and one of them is to counter corruption, which can be done by strengthening the Penal Code by adding this particular article,” she said during yesterday’s weekly Shura session.
“This would help enhance our obligation, as the Kingdom of Bahrain, to such international agreements.
“We look forward to further detailed debate once (this proposal) is discussed by the executive authority and comes back to the legislative authority as a bill and actual law.”
However, Shura member Jameela Salman, who was former president of the Bahrain Bar Association, said the existing law did not have any loopholes and explained that those “involved in the crime” were being punished.
“The mediator and the person giving the bribe are both considered accomplices to the crime, while the main criminal is the public servant receiving the bribe,” she said during debate.
“In Kuwait, the mediator, the person receiving the bribe, and the person giving the bribe are clearly identified in the Penal Code.”
Other Shura members agreed with the proposed amendment and called for tougher punishments, with Dr Mansoor Sarhan describing bribery as a “cancer that must be eradicated”.
Shura members yesterday voted in favour of the bill, which will be referred to the government to be drafted as a law.
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