U.N. rights team heads to Bahrain

Dec. 9, 2011 at 1:26 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A delegation representing the High Commissioner for Human Rights heads for Bahrain next week to discuss a more democratic society, the U.N. said Friday.

Bahrain was criticized for its response to a Shiite uprising against the ruling Sunni monarchy early this year. At least 40 people died in the protests and the United Nations had said it believed people were being tortured in state hospitals amid the crackdown.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' human rights office, said a four-member team was on its way to Bahrain at the request of the government.

The purpose of the visit, she said, was to "discuss how we can support national efforts toward the establishment of an open and democratic society in Bahrain."

A 500-page report, published by an independent panel in November, detailed the kingdom's response to the Shiite uprising. It concluded state security forces used "excessive and unnecessary lethal force."

The International Committee of the Red Cross this week said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Bahrain's government to assess the treatment of detainees in the country. The official Bahrain News Agency adds that the government set up its own commission to examine allegations of deaths, torture and inhumane treatment.

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