Under-fire Bahrain to present rights report to UN


"The government report will be presented before February 25 … The working team is currently sounding out the views of (concerned) associations and individuals too," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar al-Baharna told AFP.

"We will identify problems as well as human rights legislation, and we will propose solutions to the challenges we face," he said, adding that local human rights groups would be briefed on the report.

Baharna said the report would cover recent bloody streets battles between protesters and police which have drawn accusations of rights abuses.

"We are seeking to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain … We must establish the principle of accountability … No one is above the law and violations must be tackled, whether they are by security forces, government employees or protesters," he said.

Bahraini officials have denied claims that police used excessive force to quell last month’s unrest in Shiite-populated areas and that some activists arrested over the protests were tortured in custody.

The clashes erupted after a protester died following an opposition demonstration on December 17, weeks before a two-day visit by close ally US President George W. Bush. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

A Shiite opposition group — Haq, or the Movement of Liberties and Democracy — claimed earlier this month that activists arrested after the clashes were tortured and one was sexually assaulted.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said several demonstrators had told relatives they had been subjected to electric shocks while in custody and one to sexual assault. It urged Bahraini authorities to investigate the allegations.

The Shiite majority in Sunni-ruled Bahrain has been campaigning for compensation for alleged human rights violations during the 1980s and 1990s.

At least 38 people died in Shiite-led protests in the Gulf archipelago between 1994 and 1999.


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