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Bahrain's Cat and Mouse Games

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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In another case brought against 28 other medics, a verdict is expected shortly.


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Turning its other cheek, on 19 September, Bahrain accepted 145 of the 176 recommendations made as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Bahrain, a process whereby states and NGOs contribute towards improving the human rights record of a country. The process occurs every four years.


According to a statement by Human Rights Watch, the recommendations accepted include "more than a dozen calling on the government to hold security forces accountable for rights abuses, including wrongful deaths and mistreatment of detainees in government custody." Other recommendations include immediately releasing prisoners who have been convicted solely for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and free expression during pro-democracy demonstrations in February and March 2011.


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A week before, Salah Ali, Bahrain's minister of state for human rights, said the government fully accepted 143 of the 176 recommendations in response to the report of the UN working group on Bahrain's UPR that was issued in July 2012.


The UPR "needs to be quickly followed by releasing leaders of peaceful protests, holding accountable high officials responsible for policies of torture, and adopting broader reforms to uphold human rights," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government has been claiming for months that it accepts the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) but continues to stall on the core issues and to deny that political detainees are still in Bahraini jails."


Many UN member states have been using the BICI, Bahrain's own internal review of the human rights violations that occurred following peaceful pro-democracy protests that began in early 2011, as a benchmark for accountability. Following

the oral intervention by the United States, Assistant Secretary Michael Posner said, "progress is slowing down, and that's a concern." He noted, "everyone who is peacefully dissenting and expressing their views has the right to do that and

shouldn't be prosecuted."

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The United Kingdom parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee is to launch an inquiry into human rights abuses in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, following a b riefing organised by Index on Censorship with Maryam Al-Khawaja, Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).


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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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