Friday, September 30, 2011

Bahrain's Military Upholds Sentences on Civilian Democracy Protesters

A court in Bahrain has upheld sentences imposed on doctors, nurses, two leaders of a teachers’ association, and at least 32 other individuals.  The sentences range from three years’ imprisonment to the death penalty, according to Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva. The Court of National Safety, "effectively a military court" in Bahrain, also upheld the sentences of 21 others.  “For such harsh sentences to be handed down to civilians in a military court with serious due process irregularities raises severe concerns,” said Mr. Colville.  He also called on the government of Bahrain "to ensure that every detained person is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and has enough time to prepare a defence case.”

The New York Times reported that the death penalty had been imposed on a protester accused of killing a police office in March, and that other sentences were imposed on medical workers who had treated protesters who were wounded during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has approximately 525,000 citizens.  According to the New York Times, 34 people have been killed, more than 14,00 people arrested, and 3,600 fired from their jobs since protests began as part of the Arab Spring.  The New York Times also reports that human rights groups said that four people died in custody after torture.


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