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Bahrain slams US rights report

Report ignores progress in promoting people’s rights, says Bahrain foreign ministry

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s foreign ministry has expressed dismay over the annual report issued by the State Department on the human rights situation in Bahrain.

“The report lacks objectivity and impartiality, and has overlooked Bahrain’s progress in protecting and promoting human rights,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The report did not shed light on the most significant steps taken by the kingdom towards consolidating human rights achievements. It also undermined the independence of the judicial system and overlooked facts and figures mentioned by the unit tasked with the implementation of the recommendations set by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI),” the ministry said on Tuesday.

The BICI, a fact-finding panel of international crime experts, was set up by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June 2011 to look into the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March and their consequences.

In November 2011, following four months of field work and interviews with all parties in the country, it issued a searing report and a series of recommendations to ensure the dramatic events are not repeated.

The government accepted the findings and pledged to implement the recommendations, especially those related to security and detention issues.

The US report claimed that human rights problems in Bahrain were related to the “arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges” and to the “lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students, with some resulting in harsh sentences”.

It however added that “some protesters engaged in lethal acts of violence against security forces, including the use of improvised explosive devices, Molotov cocktails, and other improvised weapons”.

The foreign ministry disputed the conclusions about the security matters.

“The State Department report has failed to mention the reforms and achievements accomplished by Bahrain, especially the ones related to the security sector, including arrest measures and detention conditions,” the ministry said.

According to the statement, the credibility of the US report was seriously affected and its significance eroded after it failed to include the official information provided by the government upon a request from the US embassy in Manama for the drafting of the account.