The government of Bahrain has admitted in a public statement that its security forces used excessive force and mistreated detainees during democracy protests.
“The government has carried out its own assessments and conducted its own investigations,” it said. “These investigations have revealed things to praise as well as things to deplore. Regrettably, there have been instances of excessive force and mistreatment of detainees. This was in violation of government policy. Twenty prosecutions against the officers involved have been initiated.”
More than 40 people have been killed in the unrest which began in February. This is a serious number, but nothing in comparison to Syria, for example. Bahrain, however, has been in the international spotlight.
The statement said the country’s penal code will be amended to outlaw torture and the government will establish a national human rights organisation.
The statement comes in the run-up to the publication of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation (BICI), which will be announced tomorrow. This was requested by King Hamad in June, as Bahrain reeled at the international condemnation of its behaviour.
The opposition, some of it inspired by Iran, is expected to argue that the report will play down the government violence, but it is expected that the reportw ill also draw attention to some very atrocious activities committed by the protesters as well. There continue to be protests in the Shia neighbourhoods and it is difficult to know if this is inspired by radical elements of society or an indication of the entire community. The statement said that the police force has shown “admirable restraint when faced with great provocation”, knowing that every civilian casualty is a defeat for the government.
“The extremists know this, and have engaged in reckless provocation,” it said. “The police have suffered 846 injuries since the beginning of the events; four deaths; innumerable threats and insults, especially to their families.”
The government knows that it needs to solve the problems as quickly as possible as the economy has been in trouble since the unrest began. Some financial institutions and other businesses have relocated to nearby Dubai, where there are no such problems.
This is all well and good but it is still not clear whether a Grand Prix is a good idea as it could still act as a target for protest, which would not help Bahrain and would certainly not help F1.