Bahrain is "still waiting for justice" as hopes fade for human rights and accountability five years after a wave of protests demanding widespread reform was brutally crushed, Amnesty International said Thursday.
"Five years since the uprising, torture, arbitrary detention and a widespread crackdown against peaceful activists and government critics have continued," said James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Anyone who dares to criticise the authorities including human rights and political activists risk punishment, Lynch stated.
“Despite pledges from the authorities to prosecute security forces responsible for human rights violations in 2011, the Bahraini people are still waiting for justice."
The mass protests which began on 14 February 2011 were violently quashed by security forces, who shot dead and injured protesters. Others died in custody after being tortured, Amnesty recalled.
Political activists, human rights defenders, teachers and doctors were among those arrested for leading or taking part in the 2011 protests or denouncing abuses.
Many of the protesters remain behind bars and several are serving life sentences, in some cases after being convicted on the basis of "confessions" they said were extracted through torture, Amnesty stated.
"Institutions set up to protect human rights have not only failed to independently investigate or hold perpetrators to account, but now increasingly appear to be used to whitewash continuing abuses.”
The few members of Bahrain's security forces who were prosecuted, including those who shot dead protesters, were either acquitted on "self-defence" grounds or handed token sentences, Amnesty reported.
Amnesty urged Bahrain's authorities to rein in security forces and send a clear message that those responsible for human rights violations will be brought to justice.