Bahrain authorities used excessive force and tortured detainees involved in the pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by an independent Bahraini government commission. The report, published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) [official website], concluded that the security forces "violated the principles of necessity and proportionality" in their choice of weapons and in their disregard for the safety of bystanders during the protests. The report further concludes that detained protesters were subject to physical torture, both as a punishment and as a means to coerce confessions. BICI maintains that the government is accountable for the conduct of its security:
The Government believed that the domestic situation reached a point that was threatening the complete breakdown of law and order...A State of National Safety was declared in Bahrain [to restore] public order...The security forces carried out [arrests] without presenting an arrest warrant or informing the arrested individual of the reasons for arrest. In many cases, the security services of the [government of Bahrain] resorted to the use of unnecessary and excessive force, terror-inspiring behaviour and unnecessary damage to property. The fact that a systematic pattern of behaviour existed indicates that this is how these security forces were trained and were expected to behave.The commission stated that the security forces acted with an expectation of impunity for their actions. On Monday, the Bahrain government admitted the use of excessive force [JURIST report] in the protests. This admission, which was made in anticipation of the independent report, was a reversal of the government's previous defense of its actions [CNN report].
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.