Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] announced on Wednesday that an independent commission will investigate human rights violations related to the country's pro-democracy protests. During a televised speech [transcript], Khalifa indicated that he had ordered a committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister to look into abuses that took place in Bahrain [BBC profile] earlier this year. Khalifa said that the country had already begun to move forward from the violence, but maintained that the commission would seek to uncover who should be held responsible:
[W]e also need to look back and to determine exactly what happened in February and March, and to consider the reactions to those events. There were victims of the violence that took place. They must not be forgotten. There have been accusations and counter-accusations about the origins of the violence. A lack of confidence has prevailed, and disagreements have led to conflicting beliefs about events, even if such beliefs are founded only on rumors.The commission, Khalifa said, would be composed of international human rights law experts recommended by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] and other international human rights organizations.
Earlier this month, the OHCHR announced [press release; JURIST report] that Bahrain has agreed to permit a UN commission to investigate human rights violations related to protests. In April, human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Doctors Without Borders (DWB) [advocacy websites] criticized Bahrain for rampant human rights abuses [JURIST report] related to anti-government protests. Six opposition leaders were arrested [JURIST report] in March after the government, backed by foreign troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) [official website], violently dispersed protesters in the capital of Manana. Days earlier, Khalifa declared [JURIST report] a three-month state of emergency [decree text, in Arabic] in response to growing unrest in the island nation. The state of emergency came just days after a group of 22 Bahraini lawmakers, part of an independent pro-government bloc, called on the King to impose martial law [JURIST report] under articles 36 and 123 of the Bahraini Constitution [text, PDF]. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to violence against protesters [JURIST report] in the country, referencing attempts to quell protests sweeping across the region.