WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Amnesty International said U.S. lawmakers have significant influence over the human rights situation in the kingdom of Bahrain.
Human Rights Watch in June said riot police in Bahrain fired flash grenades and tear gas at a rally in support of the opposition al-Wefaq party. The country's Interior Ministry issued a statement to the organization saying it would investigate the matter. Al-Wefaq said five protesters were arrested for demonstrating without a permit.
Amnesty International issued a statement to U.S. lawmakers expressing concern over abuses in Bahrain. The organization noted that Bahraini officials have said they were addressing international concerns but the monarchy continues to issue criminal charges against protesters exercising their right to free speech.
"Bahraini authorities have charged, convicted and imprisoned peaceful protestors following non-violent criticisms of the government," read Amnesty International's statement.
The organization said it was calling for the "immediate and unconditional release" of all prisoners of conscience held in Bahrain, stating U.S. lawmakers have a "crucial role to play" in the country.
Washington was criticized for taking a soft line on Bahrain's response to last year's uprising. The country hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
Bahrain had pledged to consider a series of reforms recommended last year by an independent commission examining the violence. At least 50 people were killed during the uprising.