White House 'closely monitoring' Bahrain for reforms

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A flashback to the Bahrain uprisings in March

A flashback to the Bahrain uprisings in March

The White House has said it will be "closely monitoring" Bahrain's promise to carry out reforms following the publication of a report into the unrest which erupted in February.

In a statement, the US President's office said it welcomed the report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and said King Hamad’s decision to establish the Commission was a "courageous one". 

"The report identifies a number of disturbing human rights abuses that took place during this period, and it is now incumbent upon the Government of Bahrain to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and put in place institutional changes to ensure that such abuses do not happen again," the White House said.

It added that it will closely follow the implementation process. 

"More broadly, we believe the Commission’s report and subsequent steps taken to implement its recommendations can serve as a foundation for advancing reconciliation and reform," the statement said. 

"Bahrain is a long-standing partner of the United States, and we urge the government and all parties to take steps that lead to respect for universal human rights and to meaningful reforms that meet the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis," it added.

The report, published on Wednesday, said Bahrain's security forces used excessive force to suppress protests in the island kingdom earlier this year, including torture and forced confessions.

The panel, led by Egyptian-American international law expert Cherif Bassiouni, was formed and funded by Bahrain's government five months ago in an attempt to address charges of human rights abuses during the crackdown.

"In many cases security agencies in the government of Bahrain resorted to excessive and unnecessary force," Bassiouni said, adding that many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of abuse.

The panel, which said 35 people were killed, including five security personnel, urged a review of sentences handed down to those held responsible for the turmoil.

King Hamad, speaking after Bassiouni delivered his report, blamed much of the unrest on efforts by Iran to incite violence, but said laws would be reviewed and if necessary revised.

"We do not want, ever again, to see our country paralysed by intimidation and sabotage... nor do we want, ever again, to discover that any of our law enforcement personnel have mistreated anyone," he said.

"Therefore, we must reform our laws so that they are consistent with international standards to which Bahrain is committed by treaties."

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