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Bahrain: Amendments to Bribery Provisions in the Penal Code

(Mar. 19, 2018) On January 25, 2018, Bahrain issued Law No. 3, which amended a number of provisions of the Penal Code No. 15 of 1976. (Law No. 3 of 2018, Amending Some Provisions of the Penal Code Issued by Decree Law No. 15 of 1976, Official Gazette, No. 3350, Jan. 25, 2018, pp. 6–7, Government of Bahrain’s Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission website (in Arabic).)

The new articles increase the penalties for bribery, extend the elements of the crime to cover bribery offered to employees and public officials of foreign countries regarding “international projects” (amal douali), and appear to widen the jurisdiction of Bahraini courts to crimes committed outside Bahrain in order to strengthen the fight against corruption in the country.

The new articles are as follows:

Article 186, first paragraph:

Any employee or anyone entrusted with a public service who asks for or accepts for himself or others, directly or indirectly, a gift or benefit of any kind, or a promise of obtaining the same, in exchange for performing or not performing an act in the course of discharging his duties, is punishable by not less than five years’ imprisonment.

Article 188:

Any employee or officer entrusted with a public service who asks for or accepts for himself or others, directly or indirectly, a gift or benefit of any kind, upon completing or failing to complete an act in the course of discharging his duties is punishable with imprisonment.

If the performance or omission of such an act is rightfully [within the purview of his duties], the punishment shall be detention for a period of not less than one year.

[“Imprisonment [sajn] is defined as incarceration in a prison dedicated to this purpose for a period of not less than three and not more than fifteen years unless the law provides otherwise.”  (PENAL CODE No. 15 of 1976, art. 52, Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission website.) “Detention [habs] is defined as incarceration in a prison dedicated to this purpose for a period of not less than ten days and not more than three years.” (Id. art. 54.)]

Article 189:

Any public employee or officer entrusted with a public service who asks for or accepts for himself or others, directly or indirectly, a gift or benefit of any kind, or a promise of obtaining the same, in exchange for performing or not performing an act not within the duties of his office, but he so claimed or wrongfully believed [those duties] to be [within the duties of his office], shall be punished with detention.

Article 190:

Anyone who offers to a public employee or to an officer entrusted with a public service – without his offer being accepted – a gift or benefit of any kind, or a promise of obtaining the same, in exchange for performing or not performing an act in violation of the duties of his office shall be punished with detention for a period not less than one year.

If the performance or omission of such an act is rightfully [within the purview of his duties], the punishment shall be detention for a period not to exceed one year.

Article 190 bis:

Anyone who offers to a public employee or to an officer entrusted with a public service in a foreign country or gives him, directly or indirectly, a gift or benefit of any kind or promises to give the same to him or to a third person, in order to obtain a commercial project or maintain the same or for the sake of any other benefit relating to initiating an international project in exchange for having the public employee or the officer entrusted with a public service perform or abstain from performing an act in the course of the discharge of his duties shall be punished with detention for a period of not less than one year.

Article 191:

In all cases mentioned in the preceding articles, the offender shall pay a fine equal to what has been demanded, accepted, promised, or offered provided it will not be less than five hundred dinars [about US$1,322].