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Vernieuwende amateurkunstverenigingen gezocht

Datum nieuwsfeit: 17-04-2012
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Bron: Emmen
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Vernieuwende amateurkunstverenigingen gezocht

The Bahraini government's response to the findings of an international
commission of inquiry has proved inadequate as human rights violations
continue, Amnesty International said in a new report on Tuesday.

The 58-page Flawed Reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters
reveals that piecemeal reforms have failed to provide justice for victims of
human rights violations, despite the government's insistence that it will learn
from the events of February and March 2011.

"With the world's eyes on Bahrain as it prepares to host the Grand Prix, no-one
should be under any illusions that the country's human rights crisis is over,"
said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North
Africa Deputy Director.

"The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to
reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary
and excessive force against protests. Their reforms have only scratched the

"The government's huge financial investment in international experts to help
them reform will go to waste unless it shows real political will to take
difficult decisions - in particular, holding to account senior members of the
security forces accused of violations, releasing prisoners of conscience and
addressing the underlying discrimination against the Shi'a majority

Following the November 2011 report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of
Inquiry (BICI) - sometimes known as the 'Bassiouni Commission' - Amnesty
International has found that despite some institutional and other reforms, the
government's overall response has been inadequate.

Lack of accountability
The government pledged to hold accountable members of the security forces
responsible for violations against protesters and created a special office to
do so. But Amnesty International said that this office lacks independence and
impartiality and noted that only a handful of low-ranking security and police
officers have been put on trial.

No senior members of the security forces, including the National Security
Agency and Bahrain Defence Force, have been held to account. A number of
security officers accused of being responsible for torture during last year's
protests are believed to still be in their posts without having been

Even the eight policemen, including two Bahraini nationals, known to have been
charged in connection with deaths during protests have not been suspended and
are reported to remain in their roles at the Ministry of Interior while the
case proceeds.

Prisoners of conscience
Scores of prisoners, tried unfairly in military courts and sentenced to
long-term prison sentences, have not been released, even though they were
convicted solely for leading and participating in anti-government protests
without using or advocating violence.

The cases achieving most prominence involve the 14 opposition members arrested
in March and April 2011. The verdict in their appeal case is expected to be
heard on 23 April. Several of the men have reported being tortured following
their arrest.

Charges against the men included "setting up terror groups to topple the royal
regime". Some of the prisoners publicly called for an end to the monarchy and
its replacement with a republican system. They have not used or advocated

One of the men, human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, has been on hunger
strike for more than two months in protest at his unfair imprisonment. Amnesty
International understands his physical condition is critical.

In December, the Public Prosecutor ordered that all charges related to the
right to freedom of expression should be dropped. But very few detainees have
benefited from this measure, since the vast majority of people detained were
charged with several offences, including "participation in an illegal gathering
of more than five people".

Continuing violations by police in the midst of reforms
Following the BICI report, the government has introduced a new code of conduct
for members of the security forces, established a new office in the Ministry of
the Interior dedicated to investigating complaints against the police and
embarked on human rights training for police officers.

But Amnesty International said that in practice, the security forces remain
largely unaffected by these institutional changes. Although they have reduced
the use of shotguns since late 2011, security forces continue to face
protesters with unnecessary and excessive force - particularly tear gas, which
has resulted in several deaths in recent months. At least 60 people have now
been killed in connection with protests since February 2011.

Amnesty International recognizes that the Bahraini security forces sometimes
face groups behaving violently, such as by throwing Molotov cocktails at them
or their vehicles. But the security forces must respect international human
rights law and standards.

Amnesty International has received reports that, at the same time as police
reforms are being introduced with much fanfare, detainees are facing torture
and ill-treatment in unofficial detention places, including unused government
buildings, police vehicles and in open areas.

Eighteen year-old student Hassan 'Oun was arrested by policemen in civilian
clothes on 3 January in 'Arad district and taken to the Samaheej police station
where he was interrogated.

Hassan's family told Amnesty International that when his lawyer saw him the
next day at the Public Prosecutor's office he saw signs of torture on his body
and that his leg was swollen. Hassan 'Oun told his lawyer that at the police
station forced to stand up for about 11 hours and that he was beaten on his
feet with a hosepipe and threatened with rape.

The Public Prosecutor's Office decided to detain Hassan 'Oun for 45 days
pending investigation and have since charged him with illegal public gathering.
He was previously detained in connection with anti-government protests in 2011.

Calls for change
Amnesty International is calling on the Bahraini government to immediately and
unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and to ensure that those
suspected of torturing and killing, including those with command
responsibility, are held accountable.

"The establishment of the BICI was a real breakthrough and raised expectations
that things would be different in Bahrain," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle
East and North Africa Deputy Director. "Yet, nearly five months after the
report's publication, real change has not materialized."

"It is time for the Bahraini government to match its public pronouncements with
genuine actions."

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