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UN ‘High’ Commissioner Pillay, ‘Deep Regrets’ DO NOT Open Prison Doors

Harsh sentences for Bahraini activists ‘deeply regrettable’ – UN human rights chief
UN News Center – 6 September , 2012

6 September 2012 – The United Nations human rights chief today described the a Bahraini appeals court’s decision to uphold convictions and sentences of 20 human rights activists and political opponents as “deeply regrettable.”

“Criticizing the Government and calling for reforms are not crimes,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a news release. “The Government must engage in an open, genuine and meaningful dialogue with the opposition, across the political spectrum. This is the only constructive way to defuse an increasingly tense situation.”

Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Gulf country.

According to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the individuals whose sentences were upheld Tuesday were initially convicted last year by Bahrain’s Court of National Safety, essentially a military court, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Government, amongst other changes. Some were also charged with espionage.

After the convictions were upheld by the National Safety Appeals Court, the Government announced that all the cases would be transferred to civilian courts. The appeals proceedings took place this year.

“I had welcomed the Bahraini Government’s decision to transfer these cases to civilian courts, as military trials of civilians raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned,” Ms. Pillay said.

“But now, given the gravity of the charges, the scant evidence available beyond confessions, the serious allegations of torture and the irregularities in the trial processes, it is extremely disappointing that the convictions and sentences have been upheld in appeals proceedings that often took place behind closed doors,” she added. …more

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