UN to probe Bahrain over rights violations

Published Friday, November 23, 2012

The UN human rights office on Friday announced it was sending a team to Bahrain to assess the kingdom’s human rights situation, one year after a report incriminated the monarchy over the torture and killing of protesters.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said four staff members will visit Bahrain in early December at the invitation of the government to “discuss the judicial system and accountability for present and past human rights abuses.”

The announcement comes three days after Bahraini rights activists called on the international community to hold Bahrain’s monarchy accountable for pledges it made last year to abide by recommendations of an independent tribunal formed in the wake of a bloody crackdown on the country’s popular uprising.

And on Thursday, Human Rights Watch issued a statement critizing Bahrain’s authorities for failing to procede with the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, noting that rights violations remain widespread.

“This is a very good step from the UN, and we welcome it,” Yousif al-Muhafda, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human rights, told Al-Akhbar. He added that his organization has been calling for the OHCHR to set up a permanent office in Bahrain.

“Human rights violations have been continuing since the report one year ago, so we need the UN to monitor what is happening in Bahrain at all times,” al-Muhafda, who was recently released from prison, added.

Meanwhile on Friday, a lawyer for a Bahraini man who was allegedly tortured in prison has been interrogated by authorities for speaking to the media about her client’s case.

Manar Maki was questioned over “defaming” the public prosecution office after revealing details over the ill treatment of 22-year-old Adnan al-Mansi, jailed since May.

The prisoner says he was sexually abused by authorities in detention causing an anal hemmorage, and that he suffers from temporary paralysis and a permanent headache after being beaten on the head. He was also refused medical treatment.

“The government started out by coming after human rights defenders, and then doctors, and then it was about social media activists. Now, they are coming after lawyers,” al-Muhafda said.

“In the next few days, they will interrogate another lawyer. They are trying to send a message that if you talk to media, they will put you in prison,” he added.

On Wednesday Bahrain sentenced 23 medics to three months in prison after they treated injured protesters. Earlier this year, nine other medics were jailed on trumped up charges after treating injured activists, drawing international condemnation by rights groups and western governments.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior banned all forms of public gathering.

The arrests are part of an ongoing clampdown on dissent in Bahrain.

The country has witnessed widespread opposition protests since a popular uprising erupted in February 2011. It began with protesters calling for more civic freedoms, but many now want to see the monarchy toppled after it responded by launching a bloody crackdown.

Saudi troops were ushered into Bahrain in March 2011 to help crush the movement, but they failed to end protests.

At least 80 people have been killed since the uprising began, according to activists.

(Al-Akhbar)

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