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U.N. torture envoy delays Bahrain visit

Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:26 PM

MANAMA, Bahrain, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A U.N. torture rapporteur has delayed a visit to Bahrain to assess the human rights situation because of scheduling conflicts, state media reported.

Bahrain's Human Rights Minister Salah bin Ali Abdul-Rahman said the United Nations turned down a request to send a special envoy on torture and degrading treatment because of a scheduling conflict. The visit was expected in February but is delayed to March, the official Bahrain News Agency reports.

The minister said Bahrain has nothing to hide from U.N. investigators, adding the kingdom's reform projects were a testament to its open-door policy. Manama said "biased media outlets" were in part to blame for a tarnished human rights reputation in the Sunni-led kingdom.

In November, rights group Amnesty International accused the government of falling short on reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. BICI was established to probe early 2011 civil unrest and the subsequent government crackdown.

The minister said that more than 80 Arab and international human rights organizations have visited his country to assess the human rights situation in Bahrain since 2011.

Bahrain in November banned public demonstrations, citing mounting security challenges but has since relaxed some restrictions.

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