Bahrain king dismisses charges against some protesters

[JURIST] Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official profile] announced on Sunday that he will dismiss charges against some of the protesters detained for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations in the country. In a nationally televised speech [video], Khalifa conceded that some of the protesters had been subjected to violence during the demonstrations which began in February [JURIST news archive]. Khalifa said:

There are those who were arrested, and investigations proved that they were the victims of individual behavior and were ill-treated in custody. This is not tolerated by God and we do not condone it. ... The last few months were painful for all of us, and even though we all live in the same country, some have forgotten about the inevitability of coexistence.
Khalifa also announced that victims of abuse or the families of those killed during the protests will be eligible to receive compensation payments [AP report]. The Bahraini Supreme Court will oversee the disbursement of compensation payments to victims.

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, the OHCHR 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. 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.

 

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