[JURIST] Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa [NYT profile] on Thursday approved amendments to the country's constitution that give more power the the parliament by allowing it to have more control over government ministers. While the reforms come as an attempt to settle unrest in the country [AP report] that has been taking place for over a year, reports indicate that opposition groups of the Shiite majority have already voiced their disapproval [Al Jazeera report] for the new measures. The amendments provide more participation in the government for the elected members of parliament, but the opposition has been demanding a fully elected government and dismissal of the appointed members. The opposition claims all of the parliament should be elected because the country's constitution, originally drafted in 1973, provides for a single-body parliament to be elected by Bahrain's citizens.
Strife in Bahrain has resulted in multiple injuries and deaths recently. Earlier this week, advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Bahrain to immediately release the leaders [JURIST report] of last year's anti-government protests, including hunger striker Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. HRW states that the 14 individuals have been jailed for more than a year with no evidence of any wrongdoing produced against them. In April HRW issued a report [JURIST report] alleging Bahrain's police officers regularly abuse minor detainees before transporting them to police stations. Also in April Amnesty International (AI) issued its own report [JURIST report] alleging human rights violations continue in Bahrain despite reforms.