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Bahrain to Start Process to Compensate Protest Victims

Bahrain’s Justice Ministry will start receiving on March 18 civil settlement applications to compensate victims of violence from last year’s mass protests.

The ministry set up the civil settlement initiative in line with recommendations from an independent international commission that investigated possible human rights abuses during the February-March 2011 protests. At least 35 people were killed during the rallies and an ensuing crackdown through April last year, the commission has said.

The initiative “does not annul the victims’ right to pursue legal settlement,” the state-run Information Affairs Authority said today in an e-mailed statement, citing a ministry official. “The initiative’s beneficiaries include families of deceased victims, physical injuries or abuse, along with other cases seen fit for settlement as per the circumstances of each case.”

Mass protests led by Bahrain’s Shiite majority broke out a year ago demanding democracy and equal rights from the Sunni monarchy, leading to a crackdown by security forces in which troops from neighboring Saudi Arabia, also ruled by Sunnis, were called in to help. Tensions in the island nation have simmered in Shiite areas throughout the past year.

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