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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Bahrain

While Bahrain’s constitution does not specifically contain provisions for the protection of the environment, Article 11 states that “All natural resources shall be the property of the state. It shall ensure their preservation and proper utilization”.

Article 98, on the other hand, states “no concession for exploitation of either a natural resource may be granted except by a law and for a limited period”.

Featured Legislation

Environmental legislation in the Kingdom of Bahrain seeks to strengthen its efforts to protect the environment and natural resources through legislative guarantees to ensure the optimum use of resources, promoting development that does not cause harm to the environment and human health.

1983: The Government of Bahrain created the Environmental Protection Committee (EPC), which was later upgraded to the Environmental Affairs (EA) office.

1995: Legislative Decree No. 2 of 1995 on the protection of the wildlife in Bahrain was tabled. The aim of this Legislative Decree is to protect the wildlife in Bahrain. This Legislative Decree is composed of 13 articles. Terms and definition (art. 1). Article 2 deals with objectives. Article 3 decrees the establishment of the National Committee for Protection of Wildlife. Article 4 specifies the Competencies and duties of the Committee. Article 6 defines the following prohibited activities in protected areas: hunting or fishing without a special permission; cutting or uprooting trees, plants, coral reef; and, trading with any species of wildlife without authorization. The Committee will coordinate with other competent authorities to regulate fishing and hunting into the protected areas (art. 7). The Competent Authority based on the recommendation of the Committee will issue the necessary resolutions for the definition of the protected species and the species threatened to be extinct (art. 8). The applicant who wants to trade with the wildlife species shall specify in the veterinary certificate the characteristics of the animal, plant, bird, country of origin and to be free from disease (art. 9). Violation and penalties (art. 11). Resolution No. 21 of 1993 is now abrogated (art. 12).

1996: The  Legislative Decree-law No.21 was enacted to establish the Environmental Affairs Agency under the Ministry of Housing, Municipalities and Environment.

1996: Recommendations of the Public Commission for the Protection of the Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife were issued.

1998:  An Edict on environmental assessments of projects was issued.

1999: An official order was signed with respect to the Control of Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Edict was designed to stop the production and import of ozone depleting substances and reduce their concentration in the atmosphere.

1999:  An Edict regarding Environmental Standards (Air and Water) was approved by the government.

2001: A decree on the management of hazardous waste was signed into force.

2002: An Edict designed to govern the importation and use of banned and severely restricted Chemicals was issued.

2003: Resolution No. 3 of 2003 prohibiting the fishing of sea cows, marine turtles and dolphins was drafted. The aim of this Resolution is to regulate fishing and the exploitation of marine wealth with the objective to protect it. The present Resolution is composed of 3 articles. Article 1 bans the fishing of sea cows, marine turtles and dolphins in the fishing area of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Article 2 contains offences and penalties.

2005: Regulations were introduced concerning the hunting and trading of Bahraini nightingales and bustards.

2005: An Edict on Hazardous Waste Management was passed.

2006: An order for Hazardous Chemicals Management was introduced by the EPC.

2012: Decree-Law 47 was passed, establishing and organizing the Supreme Council for the Environment.

2012: Decree-Law 90 was signed, creating the Supreme Council for the Environment.

2016: Directive No.PSC/01 on Bahrain Port State Control was presented. This Directive consisting of 19 articles and XI Annexes, issued under Resolution No.20 of 2016, aims at providing guidance on the conduct of port State control inspections on any ship and its crew calling at a port or anchorage to engage in a ship/port interface. The Directive at art.4 lists the boats excluded from its provisions. It establishes also that (i) in one year must be inspected the 10% of the average number of foreign merchant ships calling ports in Bahrain; (ii) there are two types of inspections a) initial inspection and b) more detailed inspection; (iii) a report has to be drawn up by the inspector, also providing with it the ship’s master; (iv) a ship can be detained when the inspection highlights deficiencies hazardous to safety, health or the environment; (v) in case of detention, the Directive indicates the bodies that need to be informed; (vi) circumstances for which a ship may be prohibited from entering the port; (vii) in case the deficiencies cannot be repaired in the port of inspection, the ship can be allowed to proceed to a near repair yard; and (viii) port authority must provide information in respect of each ship calling at its port or anchorage to the PMA regarding, among others, the ship’s name and time of arrival or departure

2014: Decree 34 was issued, appointing the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Supreme Council for the Environment.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • The Shura Council has approved a new law which stipulates the death penalty as the maximum punishment for environmental crimes – namely, the importation and transportation of dangerous materials and other hazardous waste. if the materials or waste are nuclear, the punishment will be life in prison, which carries a 25-year sentence, or the death penalty with fines of between BD100,000 and BD1 million. The new government-drafted bill contains 125 articles, revealing that jail terms or fines could be doubled for recidivists. The new law was created in response to mounting fears about the potential of nuclear or radioactive disasters resulting from disregarding procedures, improper conduct or criminal intent. The new decree also contains provisions for failing to conduct an environmental impact study for construction. New approaches to punishment will be used to deter offshore or onshore oil leaks; the release of harmful substances into the sea; and the possession or disposal of ionised or ion-emitting equipment without permission from the proper authorities. Finally, the new law outlines the creation of a national fund for environment protection and development, recommending rewards for environmental protection and development schemes.

References and Further Reading


The Supreme Council for the Environment: