Report: Bahrain adopts zero tolerance torture policy

A Bahraini man protests Tuesday at a rally of employees who lost their jobs for "free speech activity" in Isa Town.

Story highlights

  • Bahrain's government is adopting recommendations made by an independent commission
  • The commission found that police tortured civilians arrested during a crackdown on protests
  • Additionally, Bahrain is reinstating government workers fired for "free speech activity"

Bahrain is adopting a zero tolerance policy toward "torture, inhuman treatment and degrading detention" practices toward political prisoners -- one of a number of recommendations made by an independent commission looking into claims of abuse during a crackdown on protesters earlier this year.

The government announced the policy in a statement released by the state-run Bahrain News Agency on Wednesday evening.

The moves follows last month's report by an independent commission that found police tortured and used excessive force against civilians arrested during a crackdown on the protests that followed successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

The oil-rich kingdom, according to the statement, is committed to implementing the recommendations "in their entirety."

The government plans to reinstate all government employees who were fired after they were charged with "free speech activity," the statement said.

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The government also is ordering that all pending cases of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" be transferred to its top judicial office for investigation.

Additionally, Bahrain is ordering the use of audio-video equipment during interviews with suspects, witnesses and detainees, the statement said.

The move follows news over the weekend that Bahrain plans to drop charges related "to speech protected by the right to freedom of expression," the news agency said. Forty-three cases applying to 343 people will benefit from the announcement, it said.

Demonstrations demanding political reform and greater freedoms in Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority Bahrain began February 14 before authorities -- backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- cracked down in two waves, first in February and later in mid-March.

Thirty civilians and five security officers were killed during that time, the commission said.

Opposition groups say more than 1,000 people -- mainly Shiites -- have been detained for allegedly taking part in the demonstrations.

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