Dubai: Bahrain has set up an independent fact-finding commission that will look into the incidents of violence occurred during the anti-regime protests earlier this year.
     
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appointed the five-member panel after broad consultations with various parties, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR).
     
The commission, headed by expert in criminal law Mahmud Sharif Bassiouni, brings together a team of politically independent figures with extensive expertise in international human rights law.
     
"The events which took place in February and March were distressing to us, as they were to all our people and to all friends of Bahrain everywhere. The events were unprecedented, came at a time when the Kingdom was taking broad strides forward in all areas," the King said in a televised speech.
    
"We have not wavered in our commitment to the principles of human rights, and that the violation of those principles will not be tolerated. We have therefore decided, after broad consultations with many parties including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to appoint an independent fact-finding Commission into the events of February and March," he said.

The panel will comprise "eminent persons with extensive expertise in international human rights law," who have no role in the government or in political sphere. "They have been chosen because of their personal stature and international achievements."
    
The committee will submit its report, expected by October end, to the Bahraini government which in return will take the necessary action in response to the findings.

King Al Khalifa said, "We have issued a Royal Order setting out the members of the Commission and its terms of reference, emphasising that all Ministers are to support the work of the Commission, and to cooperate without reservation in its work, so that its findings will reveal the truth and assist us in putting events of the past behind us."
      
The King also stressed the importance of meaningful dialogue. "With a dialogue of national consensus, encompassing the views of all sectors of Bahraini society, we can write a new chapter in our history."
     
"Citizens have the right to put [forward] their demands without being met violently; and in return, freedom must be exercised responsibly... Freedom of expression must not be exploited as a way to disturb public order."

     
He, however, maintained that for 10 years, the government has sought reform of the institutions of Bahrain. "Our economic progress has also been remarkable, and we can be proud of an unemployment rate which has remained below 4 percent."
     
Bahrain was hit by widespread violence during February and March which brought the country to a standstill.
     
The King expressed hope that Bahrainis will unite and address shared concerns for the country's prosperity.

(Agencies)