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Bahrain reforms 'insufficient': Rights group

Rights organisation in Bahrain issues report accusing government of failing to follow through on promised reforms since last year's uprising

AFP , Tuesday 18 Sep 2012
Riot police chase Bahraini demonstrators Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, as they disperse a protest with tear gas in the village of Duraz, Bahrain, outside the capital of Manama. Demonstrations broke out nationwide in response to calls on social media sites for major anti-government protests and were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and chasing demonstrators. (Photo: AP)
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Bahrain has failed to fulfill promises of reform since last year's brutal crackdown on the kingdom's Shiite-led protests, denying even the basic rights to most of its people, the International Federation for Human Rights said Tuesday.

"Despite the King's promises, the reforms remain widely insufficient," the Paris-based FIDH, a group of human rights organisations, said in its latest report, "Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression."

The report is based on more than a year of investigations into government behaviours and policies in the aftermath of the mass demonstrations that rocked the kingdom's capital Manama in February 2011 which were later crushed by security forces.

King Hamad promised change in line with the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry into his government's bloody crackdown, but has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of failing to fulfill the most significant reforms.

"While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the (the commission's) recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini's fundamental rights on a daily basis," said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

She further accused authorities of using "governmental structures to attack or control the population rather than protect it, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the population."

The report said that some 80 people have been killed since the protests first broke out on 14 February, 2011. At least 34 of them have died since the commission of inquiry released its findings last November.

To date, Bahraini Shiite rights activists remain in prison, some facing life sentences for their participation in protests against the Sunni-led government.

FIDH further called on the Bahraini authorities to release all current rights prisoners and "to support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to be set-up... to monitor the implementation of the recommendations" of the independent commission of inquiry.

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