Ashton latest to critique Bahrain

Jan. 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The government of Bahrain is called on "once again" to implement reforms spelled out by an independent panel of inquiry, Europe's foreign policy chief said.

The official Bahrain News Agency reports Thursday that Human Rights Minister Salah bin Ali Abdulrahman met with Ahmed Fahran, secretary-general of the National Institution for Human Rights. A 2012 initiative in the country called for the creation a 15-member comprehensive rights council.

Bahrain last year said it was embracing reforms spelled out by a panel of inquiry probing the government's crackdown on dissidents in 2011. The government was criticized for using a heavy hand against opposition groups.

Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the European Union, issued a statement through her office, saying she was "deeply disappointed" with a court decision to uphold the sentences of 13 activists tied to the uprising.

"The high representative takes this opportunity to call, once again, on the Bahraini government to fully implement all the recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Commission of Inquiry report," her statement read. "This is crucial to build the mutual trust conducive to a meaningful and inclusive national dialogue."

A court in Bahrain this week upheld sentences ranging from five years to life in prison for opposition supporters tied to the uprising. They were accused of plotting to overthrow the government in what the official news agency described as the "terror plot case."

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