The United Nations today expressed disappointment over Bahrain’s decision to uphold the convictions of 13 pro-democracy activists in spite of concerns raised by an independent human rights panel and appeals by the international community.
“We regret that Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld the convictions of 13 activists for their role in pro-democracy demonstrations, after two years of trials and despite the conclusions of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the appeals by the international community concerning the judicial procedure and allegations of torture,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Cécile Pouilly, told reporters in Geneva.
“These persons are political and human rights activists and we are concerned they may have been wrongly convicted for legitimate activities. We are also concerned by the extreme harshness of some of the sentences, including imprisonment for life,” she added.
In early 2012, the Gulf country experienced clashes between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged there. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was established by the King of Bahrain in June 2011 to investigate incidents that occurred during the country’s unrest.
At the news briefing, the OHCHR spokesperson also condemned the arbitrary detention of the Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Said Yousif Al-Muhafdhah, who was arrested on 17 December 2012 while monitoring a protest in the capital, Manama.
Mr. Al-Muhafdhah was also sending messages on the online platform Twitter about attacks on protesters and posted a picture of a demonstrator wounded during the protest. According to the UN agency, the case is expected to be reviewed by the public prosecution office on Wednesday.
“We call on the Bahraini authorities to release him immediately,” Ms. Pouilly said.