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Bahrain should free prisoners, HRW says

Dec. 16, 2011 at 10:44 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The purpose of an independent probe into Bahrain's response to a Shiite uprising this year was to get the government to release prisoners, an official said.

Human Rights Watch called on the government in Bahrain to release those held in connection to the uprising and void their convictions. Most, the rights organization said, were jailed for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded state security forces used unnecessary lethal force during the crackdown.

Nigel Rodley, a former U.N. envoy on torture and one of the investigators on the BICI panel, told Human Rights Watch the intent of the report was to convince authorities to review convictions handed out in the wake of the uprising.

"I can confirm that our collective understanding was that the purpose of the review would be to exonerate from criminal responsibility those who have acted peacefully in the pursuit of the internationally recognized rights of freedom of expression and assembly," he said.

Bahrain said it was reviewing many of the recommendations made in the 513-page report.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported Thursday that protesters in the country were greeted by riot police, who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and percussive grenades at demonstrators.

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