[JURIST] Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa pledged on Wednesday to fulfill the 158 recommendations included in the UN Universal Periodic Review [materials] regarding human rights abuses against political opposition. Al Khalifa said Bahrain would begin accepting peaceful political opposition [AP report]. It is unclear if Bahrain will change how it handles dissent after consistent crackdowns on protesters recently. Following Al Khalifa's pledge, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called on Bahrain to follow through with their promises, but raised doubts [press release] as to whether the government is fully committed to reform.
Protests and demonstrations in Bahrain have been ongoing since February 2011 [JURIST report]. Earlier this week seven police officers were charged [JURIST report] with torturing protesters. Earlier this month the government announced that it would pursue legal proceedings [JURIST report] against the al Wefaq [official website, in Arabic] political party, which it labels an opposition group, for engaging in anti-government protests in the face of a ban [JURIST report] of those activities. Also this month, a civilian court in Bahrain upheld lengthy prison sentences [JURIST report] for 20 opposition and human rights activists, including eight life sentences. At the end of August a Bahraini appeals court overturned the conviction [JURIST report] of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive]. In July Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged the government [JURIST report] of Bahrain to release all prisoners of conscience immediately.