US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reportedly urged Bahrain’s Crown Prince to step up government attempts to address human rights concerns in the Gulf state.
Clinton met with Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa on Wednesday to discuss the country’s progress implementing the recommendations of last year’s Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement to newswire AFP: "Clinton noted the steps already taken to implement the recommendations, but expressed that much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues, including individual cases.
"She encouraged the Bahraini government to champion a clear process - in both word and action - that leads to meaningful institutional and political reforms that take into account the interests and aspirations of all Bahrainis.”
The BICI was established by King Hamad Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa last August to probe human rights violations by security forces during the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last year.
Despite committing to implement the recommendations of the report, Bahrain has since received criticism for failing to resolve the problems.
Human Rights Watch said in March that determining accountability for crimes such as torture and relief for people wrongly imprisoned had still not been adequately addressed by Bahraini authorities.
“Bahrain has taken some positive steps, but the Bahraini authorities can hardly claim that the BICI’s recommendations have been implemented as long as hundreds of people remain behind bars solely for speaking out and demanding a change of government,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the group.
International charity Amnesty International also said in April that the Bahraini government’s response to the findings of the inquiry had proven inadequate, and that piecemeal reforms had failed to provide justice for the victims of human rights violations.
It called 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, were held accountable.
Bahrain's government has defended its human rights efforts, claiming such reports reflect an “inappropriate evaluation” which “ignores all positive developments” in the country.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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