THUGS who attack police and other members of Bahrain's security forces will receive tougher punishments under new legislation approved by the Shura Council yesterday.
The amendments to the Penal Code were approved just six days after being passed by MPs.
They include life sentences for anyone who kills a member of the security services, even if the death is unintentional.
Those who intentionally cause permanent disability to a member of the security apparatus will face a minimum jail sentence of 10 years.
If the attack unintentionally caused permanent disability the culprit would face a minimum seven-year jail sentence.
Anyone involved in attacks on police could be jailed for up to 10 years, even if no injuries are sustained.
Under Bahraini law, deliberate killings already carry the maximum sentence of death.
The new amendments, drafted by the government and presented to parliament two weeks ago, will be now ratified by His Majesty King Hamad.
Council Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee Chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said they were essential in protecting national security.
"As we seek protection for regular people we have to always take into consideration that policemen too are regular citizens, but with more responsibilities and duties that require more protection than anyone else," he said.
"The government is trying to give protection to everyone in this country and the law currently penalises any attack on a government official, but policemen are different and for this a distinction in punishments has to be made."
Shura Council member Dr Lulwa Al Awadhi said Bahrain didn't need special legislation to protect police - it simply needed to activate existing laws.
"Existing legislation is enough considering that attacks on government officials is punishable already, but they need to be activated," she said.
"No-one accepts attacks on policemen, but punishing people with such high sentences will only make the police more aggressive, knowing those who think of retaliation will rot in jail."
However, fellow member Abduljalil Al Oinati said police were no ordinary officials.
"Attacks on policemen are no regular attacks directed to any government official, they are directed at the power of the country and for this they have to be dealt with as special cases," he said.