Middle East

Bahrain abuses: US ex-police chief to help with reforms

Bahrain police disperse protesters (24 November)
Image caption An independent panel reported systematic rights abuses by the security forces against protesters

Bahrain is recruiting a former police chief from the American city of Miami to help reform law enforcement, says the country's interior ministry.

The move follows a highly critical report which found that the police in the Gulf state had used excessive force against anti-government protesters.

More than 40 people were killed during the demonstrations in February and March this year.

Officials say John Timoney will head a team of US and British advisers.

King Hamad of Bahrain has promised to prevent further abuses by the security forces, following an independent inquiry on the violence which published its findings last month.

The inquiry interviewed more than 5,000 people and documented illegal arrests, forced confessions, unfair trials and the systematic torture of detainees.

The king expressed "dismay" at the findings and said the report opened a "new page" in Bahrain's history.

'Proper practices'

On Tuesday the monarch replaced the head of the country's security agency.

There will also be a new code of conduct for police dealing with demonstrations.

John Timoney served as Miami police chief from 2003 to 2010.

He has not yet commented on his new role.

"Among his many accomplishments were the successful reduction of crime and the implementation of proper practices for the use of force," said a statement from Bahrain's government.

However, Mr Timoney's force was criticised in the US for its handling of anti-globalisation protests during a meeting of leaders from the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Miami in 2003.

Bahrain has been under pressure from the United States - which is a key ally - to improve its human rights record.

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