The Bahrain government's indiscriminate use of tear gas against protesters is resulting in severe injuries and civilian deaths, according to a report [text, PDF; press release] released Wednesday by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website]. According to PHR Deputy Director Richard Sollom, the report’s lead author, tear gas "can cause permanent injuries, miscarriages, birth defects, and even fatalities as used by Bahrain's security forces." The report notes that:
While current international law allows governments to use some chemical agents for crowd control purposes, Bahraini law enforcement officials routinely violate every UN principle of their use. Specifically, PHR documents in this report that Bahraini authorities:PHR is urging the US Congress to maintain a ban on exporting tear gas to Bahrain.
- Fail to exercise restraint before resorting to force;
- Use disproportionate force when responding to protesters; and
- Fail to minimize damage and injury to demonstrators.
Bahrain has faced continuous criticism for human rights violations since protests broke out last year. Last month Amnesty International (AI) urged the government to release all prisoners of conscience [JURIST report] immediately in the wake of an appeal by human rights activist Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive] challenging his three-month sentence for comments he posted on his Twitter page in June. Earlier in July the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority [official website] announced that it brought charges against 15 police officers [JURIST report] for alleged "mistreatment of inmates in custody" amid complaints about police activity. In June the government also announced that it would pay $2.6 million in restitution [JURIST report] to the families of protesters killed in pro-democracy protests last year to comply with the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) [official website]. In April AI condemned the country for its continued human rights violations despite reforms following the BICI report [JURIST reports] concerning human rights violations committed against anti-government protesters.