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Bahrain admits use of excessive force against pro-democracy protesters

The Bahrain [JURIST news archive] government on Monday admitted to the use of excessive force against pro-democracy protesters in the region early this year. The admission is a reversal of the country's previous characterization of its crackdown on protesters. Prior to this admission, the Bahraini government defended its actions [CNN report], which allegedly resulted in the deaths of more than 30 protesters, as necessary to maintain public safety. The government's statement comes just days before a report is expected on the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) [official website] is set to be released. The BICI, assembled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official proflie], is tasked with conducting an investigation into the treatment of protesters by government officials. The BICI report is expected to be released Wednesday.

Bahrain continues to deal with the fallout from the pro-democracy protests earlier this year. Last month, a Bahrain court began hearing the appeals of 20 medical staff members [JURIST report] who were convicted in September of participating in the protests against the ruling regime. Earlier in October, Bahrain granted retrials for the medics who were convicted and sentenced [JURIST reports] by the National Safety Court of Appeal to terms ranging from five to 10 years imprisonment. In June, Khalifa announced that an independent commission will investigate human rights violations [JURIST report] related to the country's pro-democracy protests. Earlier that month, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] announced that Bahrain agreed to permit a UN commission [JURIST report] 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.

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