Amnesty slams Bahrain reforms as 'inadequate'

New report urges Bahraini gov't response to unrest has failed to provide justice to victims
Amnesty slams Bahrain reforms as 'inadequate'
Bahrain has seen near daily protests since the start of the unrest in early 2011
By Andy Sambidge
Tue 17 Apr 2012 06:18 PM

The Bahraini government’s response to the findings of an international commission of inquiry has proved inadequate as human rights violations continue, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Its 58-page report claims that piecemeal reforms have failed to provide justice for the victims of human rights violations despite the government’s insistence that it will learn from the events of February and March 2011.

Following the November report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), Amnesty said it has found that despite some institutional and other reforms, the government's overall response has been "inadequate".

Amnesty is calling on the Bahraini government to "immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and to ensure that those suspected of torturing and killing, including those with command responsibility, are held accountable".

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa, said:“With the world’s eyes on Bahrain as it prepares to host the Grand Prix, no-one should be under any illusions that the country’s human rights crisis is over.

“The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary and excessive force against protests. Their reforms have only scratched the surface."

Sahraoui added: “The government's huge financial investment in international experts to help them reform will go to waste unless it shows real political will to take difficult decisions - in particular, holding to account senior members of the security forces accused of violations, releasing prisoners of conscience and addressing the underlying discrimination against the Shi’a majority population.

“The establishment of the BICI was a real breakthrough and raised expectations that things would be different in Bahrain. It is time for the Bahraini government to match its public pronouncements with genuine actions.”

Amnesty claimed no senior members of the security forces, including the National Security Agency and Bahrain Defence Force, have been held to account for violations against protesters.

A number of security officers accused of being responsible for torture during last year’s protests are believed to still be in their posts without having been investigated, it added.

Amnesty's report also said that scores of prisoners, tried unfairly in military courts and sentenced to long-term prison sentences, have not been released.

In December, Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor ordered that all charges related to freedom of expression should be dropped but Amnesty said very few detainees have benefited from this measure.

The report said that in total, at least 60 people have now been killed in connection with protests since February 2011.

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