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UK confirms Bahrain’s progress in reforms

Manama, May 2, 2012

Bahrain's human rights performance has shown improvements since the first half of the year, and steps have been taken to implement reforms based on the commission's (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry) recommendations, a report said.

The British government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 2011 Human Rights and Democracy report documenting unrest of the past 14 months was released by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The report describes elements of the Bahrain opposition as 'militant and sectarian'.

'The movement quickly spread following the deaths of protesters, and then grew more militant and sectarian as the Bahraini security forces and some protesters responded violently,” the report said.

The report also praises steps taken by Bahrain to form the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during the height of last year's unrest, amendments made to criminal laws and the setting up of the National Victims Compensation Fund to compensate victims and families of the deceased.

It lists a total of 28 countries in the 'countries of concern' category, the highest ever with the inclusion of Fiji and South Sudan, and was compiled by British diplomats around the world.

The 388-page report speaks of Bahraini protesters taking to the streets last year calling for political and economic reforms, but stresses the movement turned sectarian and violent.

'Violent clashes continue (in Bahrain), as do some reports of beatings and deaths in disputed circumstances,' adds the report. It goes on to call for restraint on all sides.

Call

'We continue to press all parties to exercise restraint during demonstrations and to show real leadership in order to prevent further violence,' it says.

Hague said in his speech during the launch ceremony that the FCO decided at the beginning of each year to list the countries of concern, adding it will make quarterly decisions on whether systematic reporting on human rights development in other countries is required.

'We are applying this immediately in the case of Ethiopia and Bahrain, which are covered in this report as case studies, and we will review Rwanda and Egypt for inclusion at the mid-year point,' he said.

He also revealed that the funding to support human rights work has been increased to 30 per cent.

The report has a separate section on the Arab Spring, where case studies were conducted on Bahrain and Egypt.

It also explains UK policy on the Arab Spring and lists countries of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that includes Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

'In my view 2011 will stand out as a positive year for human rights and democracy because of the remarkable power of the courage of the people of Syria and of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, whose actions have shone an intense spotlight on the need for greater political and economic freedom across the Middle East and North Africa,' said Hague.

'They helped to spur positive reform in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Jordan,Yemen and to a certain extent in Bahrain, by showing that governments must address legitimate aspirations for economic development and political participation to build stability over the long term.' – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Report | Human rights | unrest | BICI | British government | FCO |

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