Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke out against the lengthy jail sentences given to 21 political activists, human rights defenders and opposition leaders in Bahrain earlier this week.
Mr. Ban voiced deep concern about what he called “the harsh sentences,” which include life imprisonment in some cases, handed out by the courts in Bahrain, where the Government has engaged in a crackdown against demonstrators and others calling for greater democracy.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban urged Bahraini authorities “to allow all defendants to exercise their right to appeal and to act in strict accordance with their international human rights obligations, including the right to due process and a fair trial.”
The unrest in Bahrain reflects similar popular protest movements in countries across North Africa and the Middle East this year, notably including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen.
In today’s statement Mr. Ban expressed hope that Bahraini authorities “will do everything possible to create an environment conducive for the start of a concrete national dialogue,” which is slated to begin on 1 July.
He said the dialogue “should be genuine, inclusive and lead to tangible outcomes which address the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis.”