Manama, March 28 IANS | 7 months ago

The Bahraini government Thursday announced a two week grace period for citizens fighting in "jihad" missions abroad or regional conflicts to return, saying no criminal charges will be pressed.

After the two weeks the government will take strict actions, including revoking passports against returnees who are found to be involved in or deceived into joining any movement in conflict zones, particularly in Syria, Xinhua quoted Bahrain's interior ministry as saying.

"It is well known that participating in violent acts in conflict zones has often adverse psychological effects," the ministry said. "Therefore, we in cooperation with other government authorities will provide a special counselling programme to assist those who return to Bahrain within two weeks."

It said the returnees will be assisted in a variety of ways to ensure that they are able to return to productive professional and social lives.

The ministry, however, warned that after the two week grace period, criminal charges may be applied to returnees in accordance with laws.

Bahrain has been following developments in the Syrian conflicts with great concern, saying some of its citizens have gone to Syria to join the fighting. It warned Bahrainis not to take part in the fighting with opposition groups outside Bahrain or engage in regional or international conflicts.

The ministry said a punishment of up to five years' imprisonment awaits any citizen who cooperates with or joins any society, authority, organisation or group based outside Bahrain that endorses terrorism.

Three Bahrainis have reportedly died in the fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

(Posted on 28-03-2014)

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