Bahrain crackdown draws U.N. concern

Aug. 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A move by Bahrain's government to restrict protests and revoke citizenship for people accused of inciting terrorism is a concern, the United Nations said.

Bahrain's National Assembly last week recommended a ban on demonstrations in the nation's capital and tighter counter-terrorism laws. The measure would revoke the citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism.

"Any deprivation of nationality provided for by law must comply with procedural and substantive standards, including the principle of proportionality," Cecile Pouilly, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday.

Dozens of people died during Shiite-led uprisings against the Sunni monarchy in 2011. The government last year revoked the citizenship of some opposition leaders tied to the unrest.

Bahrain said it's committed to a series of reforms outlined by an independent committee investigating the government's response to the uprising. Human rights groups accused the government of abusing detainees to silence critics.

"While recognizing the responsibility of states to maintain law and order, we remind the authorities that any measure should respect international human rights standards," Pouilly said.

U.N. special envoy on torture Juan Mendez is negotiating a visit to Bahrain. Pouilly said an April visit was postponed "for the second time" and he has not been able to visit the country since.

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