Bahrain king vows reforms, penalty for troop excesses

November 24, 2011 - 1:34:51 am

MANAMA: Bahrain’s king vowed reforms yesterday after a commission of inquiry found that his security forces used “excessive force” and tortured detainees in a March crackdown on Shia-led protests.

H M King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa commissioned the report to investigate allegations of government misconduct and human rights abuses against protesters, democracy activists, and opposition figures.

Yesterday he vowed there would be reforms.

“We will introduce and implement reforms that would please all segments of our society,” the king said after the findings were released.

He also expressed “dismay” at the mistreatment of Shia detainees.

“We do not tolerate the mistreatment of detainees and prisoners. We are dismayed to find that it has occurred, as your report has found,” he said.

Responding earlier to the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry, an official spokesman also said the government accepts the criticisms.

“The government welcomes the findings of the Independent Commission, and acknowledges its criticisms,” a statement said.

“We took the initiative in asking for this thorough and detailed inquiry to seek the truth and we accept it.”

The report also acknowledged that the commission did not find proof of an Iran link to the unrest, dispelling widespread allegations by Sunni Gulf leaders that Iran played a role in instigating the mainly Shia protests.

“Evidence presented to the commission did not prove a clear link between the events in Bahrain and Iran,” said Cherif Bassiouni, the commission’s lead investigator.

The mass demonstrations which rocked the Sunni-ruled kingdom earlier this year were violently crushed as government forces used live ammunition and heavy-handed tactics to scatter protesters.

Bassiouni said the death toll from the month-long unrest reached 35, including five security personnel. Hundreds more were injured.

International organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN human rights agency, have repeatedly accused the government of violating citizens’ rights, citing allegations of torture, unfair trials, excessive use of force and violent repression. AFP