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Bahrain Rights Situation Worse Than Before, Reports Say

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 22, 2012 Last Updated: November 26, 2012
Related articles: World » Middle East
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A Shi'ite Muslim protester, holding Molotov cocktail bombs, runs for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes following an anti-government demonstration in Bahrain on Nov. 13, 2012. (Mohammed al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

A Shi'ite Muslim protester, holding Molotov cocktail bombs, runs for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes following an anti-government demonstration in Bahrain on Nov. 13, 2012. (Mohammed al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

A year after Bahrain said it would implement reforms recommended by an independent body, the Gulf monarchy was accused by human rights groups of not doing an adequate job of implementing them. And in some cases, the human rights situation has become worse.

Human Rights Watch, or HRW, accused the Sunni kingdom of worsening its human rights situation even after it said it would follow recommendations issued by an independent commission.

“Bahrain deservedly got a lot of credit for appointing an independent body to assess the government’s violations, but a year later, authorities have still not carried out the key recommendations,” said Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. 

But Stork said that after the recommendations were handed down and accepted by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa last November, many opposition activists are still in detention and some were even sentenced to life in prison.

High-level officials who implemented policies that led to torture and even death were never prosecuted. 

This month, four Bahrainis were sentenced for sending “tweets” that were deemed insulting to King Hamad. The monarch had previously said that people who publicly insult or criticize him should not be punished.

The independent commission that was appointed by the monarchy found a number of human rights violations carried out by the government during Arab Spring-inspired protests earlier in 2011.

High-level officials who implemented policies that cracked down on protesters that led to torture and even death were never prosecuted, HRW said.

A day earlier, Amnesty International delivered its own scathing critique of the country’s human rights situation, warning that the state is risking more instability and repression.

“Authorities have reneged on their promises to pursue the path of reform. Any claim by the government that it is committed to the rule of law and to improving human rights sounds hollow, in the face of a moribund reform process,” regional Amnesty Director Hadj Sahraoui said.

“Indeed, it has become evident that the authorities in Bahrain do not have the will to take the steps necessary to reform. Protestations to the contrary only underscore the gap between their rhetoric and reality.”

In a recent example, Amnesty cited the death of 16-year-old Hussam al-Haddad, who died in August after he was shot by riot police at a cafe in al-Muharraq while demonstrations were taking place. After he was shot, a police officer kicked him and hit him with his rifle, and authorities informed his family when he died later that night.

Other victims told the rights group they were beaten, shocked with electric batons, or suffered other abuses.

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