United Nations human rights experts called on Bahrain on Thursday to end the repression of activists, restrictions on freedom of expression and discrimination against women.
Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shia-majority population, has cracked down on perceived threats since Arab Spring protests in 2011, led mainly by Shi'ites, were quashed with help from Gulf Arab neighbors.
Demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces, who have been targeted in several bomb attacks.
Bahrain's delegation, led by deputy foreign minister Abdulla bin Faisal al-Doseri, told the panel his country had adopted policies aimed at combating hate speech, strengthening national unity, and creating an environment for civil society or trade unions to participate. Empowerment of women was a priority.
The U.N. panel, composed of 18 independent experts, upholds compliance with a landmark treaty on civil and political rights. It examined the record of five countries including Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.