Global Condemnation for Bahrain court Ruling against Opp. Leaders


Global Condemnation for Bahrain court Ruling against Opp. Leaders

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The appeals court ruling confirming prison terms for 13 protest leaders in Bahrain this week rose international condemnation all over the globe. 

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – This comes as the international watchdog groups slammed the Persian Gulf Arab state’s judicial system as flawed and unable to protect basic rights.

On Monday, Bahrain’s highest appeals court upheld sentences for protest leaders ranging from five years in prison to life that were originally handed down by a military court in June 2011, a ruling that could kindle further unrest.

In response, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he deeply regretted the court’s decision, describing the sentences as “harsh”.

This comes as International bodies have repeatedly criticized the prosecutions.

“The mind-boggling verdicts in these cases did not mention a single recognizable criminal offence,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In his statements, Stork further viewed that “the verdicts had instead been based upon speeches the defendants made, meetings they attended, and their calls for peaceful street protests in February and March 2011.”

“Bahrain’s Cassation Court has proven its inability to protect the most basic rights guaranteed in Bahrain’s constitution and the international treaties it has signed,” he added.

It is worth mentioning that the Court of Cassation is headed by an al-Khalifa relative and King Hamad heads the Supreme Judicial Council.

In Geneva, UN human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said she regretted the convictions despite “conclusions of the Bahrain independent commission of inquiry and appeals by the international community concerning the judicial procedure and allegations of torture.”

“These persons are political and human rights activists and we are concerned they may have been convicted wrongly for legitimate activities,” Pouilly told a news briefing on Tuesday.

Widespread and excessive use of force, including confessions under torture, was detailed by the commission of international legal experts in November 2011, and they recommended measures to stop such practices.

Similarly, Amnesty International said the ruling highlighted “flaws” in Bahrain’s justice system and the defendants should be released.

“This unjust decision will confirm the view of many that the judiciary is more concerned about toeing the government’s line than upholding the rule of law and the rights of all Bahrainis,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of London-based Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program.

Moreover, the European Union also criticized the court ruling, saying the pro-democracy activists should be given amnesty.

“The EU has repeatedly asked the Bahraini authorities to consider an amnesty for all those arrested last year and tried on charges relating to the expression of their political opinion,” the spokesman of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Michael Mann, said.

Mann stated that the EU “fully respects the independence of the Bahraini judiciary” but “remains concerned about the lack of advancement of national reconciliation.”

“All sides should engage in a peaceful, inclusive and constructive dialogue, abstaining from all forms of violence and intimidation,” he added.

The main charges the protest leaders faced were “forming a terrorist group with intent to overthrow the system of government”, as well as collaboration with a foreign state.

The opposition leaders denied all charges saying they wanted only democratic reform. The government, backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and police from the United Arab Emirates, put down the uprising with martial law in March 2011. Thousands were arrested and military trials conducted.

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1 Comment

  1. Habib says:

    It is a great shame on the ruling family of Bahrain,while knowing the legitimate demand of the people for a change of the government , is ignoring them .it is a normal system that the people are asked in a way of referendum of whether they would like to be ruled by the present rulers, like it happened in Sudan ,Indonesia and other places, why not in Bahrain ? . The west by remaining quite shows the double standard, it is very upsetting to see the democratically elected govts are harassed for creating a change ,while the dictators like Bahrain ,UAE,Saudi Arabia etc are allowed to continue unnoticed. Is this justified?

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