Rights chief welcomes Bahrain probe

June 30, 2011 at 12:44 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 30 (UPI) -- Developments in Bahrain suggest there is growing regional interest in human rights but details there warrant monitoring, the U.N. human rights chief said.

The Sunni monarchy in Bahrain announced this week it was forming an independent panel to start investigating incidents surrounding an uprising against the regime early this year. The kingdom was rapped for allegedly operating torture chambers inside its hospitals and for calling in foreign forces under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council to quiet the unrest.

Manama said the probe came through consultations with international human rights monitors.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in statements from Geneva on the so-called Arab Spring that she welcomed the developments from Manama.

"My staff are currently examining the details of these major developments in Bahrain," she said in her remarks.

Pillay in her remarks noted there was a sea change under way in the Middle East and North Africa. Once those areas were viewed as not keen on sweeping human rights reform.

"Once the Tunisians and Egyptians had blown that myth away, others realized that perhaps they could do the same," she said.

Pillay had complained in early June that her comments in Bahrain's state news agency about the conflict were "blatantly" misrepresented.

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