Source of constitutional authority, God or other deities, Preamble, Political theorists/figures, Regional group(s)
In 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.
Source of constitutional authority, Motives for writing constitution
And 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.
God or other deities, Regional group(s)
This 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.
The 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.
In 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.
Type of government envisioned
Thus 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).
Motives for writing constitution
These 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.
This 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.
We have attached an explanation memorandum which will be used to explain its judgment.
Chapter I. The State
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.
Political theorists/figures, Head of state selection, Type of government envisioned, Head of state replacement, Head of state term length, Eligibility for head of state
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Restrictions on voting, Claim of universal suffrage
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.
- This Constitution may be amended only partly, and in the manner provided herein.
Status of religious law, Official or national languages, Official religion
The religion of the State is Islam. The Islamic Shari’a is a principal source for legislation. The official language is Arabic.
National flag, National anthem
The State flag, emblem, logos, honors and national anthem are laid down by law.
Chapter II. Basic Constituents of Society
Reference to fraternity/solidarity
Justice 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.
Rights of children
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.
Provision for matrimonial equality, Equality regardless of gender
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).
State support for children, State support for the elderly, State support for the unemployed, State support for the disabled
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.
Right to transfer property
Inheritance is a guaranteed right governed by the Islamic Shari’a.
The 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.
Free education, Reference to science, Right to culture, Compulsory education, Reference to art
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.
- 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.
- Individuals and bodies may establish private schools and universities under the supervision of the state and in accordance with the law.
- The State guarantees the inviolability of the places of learning.
Right to health care
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.
- Individuals and bodies may establish private hospitals, clinics or treatment centers under the supervision of the State in accordance with the law.
- 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.
- Public funds are inviolate, and it is the duty of every citizen to protect them.
Right to own property, Protection from expropriation
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.
- Public expropriation of funds is prohibited, and private expropriation shall be a penalty only by judicial ruling in the cases prescribed by law.
- 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.
- The State shall endeavor to provide housing for citizens with limited income.
- 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.
Protection of environment
The State shall take the necessary measures for the protection of the environment and the conversation of wildlife.
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.
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.
Ownership of natural resources
All 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.
The 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.
Duty to work, Right to work, Right to choose occupation
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.
Right to safe work environment, Right to work
The State guarantees the provision of job opportunities for its citizens and the fairness of work conditions.
Prohibition of slavery
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.
Right to just remuneration
The law regulates the relationship between employees and employers on economic basis while observing social justice.
The State encourages cooperation and saving, and supervises the regulation of credit.
Duty to pay taxes
Taxes and public costs are based on social justice, and their payment is a duty under the law.
Right to reasonable standard of living
The law regulates exemption of low incomes from taxes in order to ensure that a minimum standard of living is safeguarded.
Restrictions on rights of groups
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.
- Citizens are equal in the assumption of public posts in accordance with the conditions specified by law.
Chapter III. Public Rights and Duties
Requirements for birthright citizenship, Conditions for revoking citizenship
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.
- It is prohibited to banish a citizen from Bahrain or prevent him from returning to it.
Equality regardless of gender, Equality regardless of religion, Human dignity, Equality regardless of origin, Equality regardless of language, Equality regardless of creed or belief, General guarantee of equality
People 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.
- Personal freedom is guaranteed under the law.
Regulation of evidence collection, Protection from unjustified restraint, Freedom of movement
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.
- 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.
Prohibition of cruel treatment, Prohibition of torture, Regulation of evidence collection
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.
Protection from ex post facto laws, Principle of no punishment without law
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.
- Punishment is personal.
Presumption of innocence in trials, Guarantee of due process
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.
- It is forbidden to harm an accused person physically or mentally.
Right to counsel
Every person accused of an offense must have lawyer to defend him with his consent.
- The right to litigate is guaranteed under the law.
Extradition procedure, Protection of stateless persons
The extradition of political refugees is prohibited.
Freedom of religion, Freedom of opinion/thought/conscience
Freedom 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.
Reference to science, Freedom of opinion/thought/conscience, Freedom of expression
Freedom 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.
Freedom of press
With 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.
Regulation of evidence collection, Right to privacy
Dwellings 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.
Telecommunications, Right to privacy
The 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.
Freedom of association, Right to join trade unions
The 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.
Freedom of assembly
- 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.
- 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.
Right of petition
Any 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- General or partial mobilization shall be regulated by law.
The 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.
Chapter VI. General and Final Provisions
Constitution amendment procedure
Joint meetings of legislative chambers
The conditions for amending any rules of this constitution are the approval of the amendment by two-thirds majorities of the memberships of the Chamber of Deputies and the Consultative Council, and the validation of the King, with the exception of Article (35 Items b, c, d) of this constitution. Should either chamber refuse the intention or text of the amendment, the National Assembly shall convene in the attendance of two-thirds of its membership to discuss the draft amendment, and the condition for approving the draft amendment is the approval of two-thirds of its members.
- If an amendment to the Constitution is refused, it may not be re-submitted earlier than one year from that refusal.
It is not permissible to propose an amendment to Article 2 of this Constitution, and it is not permissible under any circumstances to propose the amendment of the constitutional monarchy and the principle of inherited rule in Bahrain, as well as the bi-cameral system and the principles of freedom and equality established in this Constitution.
The powers of the King stated in this Constitution may not be proposed for amendment in an interval during which another person is acting for him.
International law, International organizations, Legal status of treaties
The application of this Constitution does not breach the treaties and agreements which Bahrain has concluded with states and international organizations.
- Exceptionally to the provisions of the second clause of Article 38 of this Constitution, all laws, laws by Decrees, Decrees, statutes, orders, edicts and circulars that have been issued and are in force prior to the first meeting convened by the National Assembly remain proper and valid, unless amended or rescinded in accordance with the regulations prescribed in this Constitution.
Laws are published in the Official Gazette within two weeks of their issue, and are enforced one month after the date of their publication, and this period may be shortened or prolonged if the law specifically prescribed it.
It is impermissible to suspend any provision of this Constitution except during the proclamation of martial law, and within the limits prescribed by the law. It is not permissible under any circumstances to suspend the convening of the Consultative Council or the Chamber of Deputies during that period or to infringe upon the immunity of their members, or during the proclamation of a state of national safety.
Joint meetings of legislative chambers, Protection from ex post facto laws
The provisions of the laws apply only to what occurs from the date the laws came into force, and have no retroactive effect. The law may state, in articles other than those pertaining to the penal code, that its provisions have a retroactive effect, with the agreement of the majority of the members of both the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies, or if circumstances require it, the National Assembly.
The amended Constitution shall be published in the Official Gazette, and shall be effective from the date of its publication.