Bahrain takes democracy steps amid Spring’s effects
MANAMA - Agence France-Presse
Bahraini women wave their flags during a rally in this photo. Bahrain pledges new measures toward prisoners. AFP photoBahrain’s rulers have pledged a policy of “zero tolerance” towards any abuse of political detainees, to reinstate all public workers sacked for dissent and to encourage foreign media into the kingdom.
The government said in a statement late Dec. 28 that the measures were in line with the recommendations of an independent probe into a month of unrest that shook the Gulf state earlier this year. The kingdom would demonstrate a “zero tolerance policy towards torture, inhuman treatment and degrading detention practices,” said the statement carried by state news agency BNA.
The government would order “audio visual equipment to ensure that all official interviews with suspects, witnesses or detainees will be recorded,” it said. The rights of suspects would be ensured including “not be detained incommunicado; be shown a warrant upon arrest; be given prompt access to their lawyers; and allowed family visits.” The steps also include “reinstating all public sector employees by Jan. 2012 charged with free speech activity,” said the English-language statement.
The government would also begin “signing contracts with leading international and regional news and feature channels and broadcast outlets guaranteeing a pluralist, inclusive media environment that encourages responsible journalism while minimizing speech inciting hatred, and sectarianism,” it added.
Bahraini authorities Dec. 24 dropped charges relating to freedom of expression in 34 cases linked to anti-regime protests in February and March, BNA reported. In March, security forces boosted by some 1,000 Gulf troops crushed the month-long uprising in Manama’s Pearl Square, epicenter of an anti-government movement that apparently took its lead from Tunisian and Egyptian protests.