Bahrain Rights Report: Government Used Excessive Force

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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The head of a special commission investigating Bahrain's unrest says the government used “excessive force” and tortured detainees during its bloody crackdown on protesters earlier this year.

Commission Chief Cherif Bassiouni announced Wednesday the findings of a much-anticipated report about the treatment of demonstrators in Shi'ite-led protests calling for democratic reform in the Sunni monarchy.

Despite discovering the government used excessive force in the crackdown, the report concluded there was no evidence that Gulf-area troops committed human rights abuses in the small country. Bahrain's Sunni Muslim authorities called in Saudi-led troops in March to help crush the protests.

The report was authorized by Bahrain's rulers and was based on interviews with more than 5,000 people.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said the government was “grateful” for the report's identification of the ways in which authorities must improve. He praised the report as a “catalyst for positive change” that the government must learn from in order to not repeat the same mistakes.

Bahraini security forces clashed with protesters in at least two Shi'ite towns hours before the release of the independent report.

Wednesday's street battles first broke out in Aali, outside the capital Manama, after a man died when his car smashed into a house when police allegedly forced him off the road.

It is not clear whether the dead motorist had been involved in protests, which take place almost daily in Shi'ite areas of Bahrain and are often met with force.

Rights groups say more than 3,000 people were detained in the March crackdown, and as many as half of those faced abuses such as electric shocks and beatings in detention.