UN condemns sentences against medics, whilst UK “expresses concern”

United Nations Human Rights Office statement on sentences against medics:

The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern at what it called the harsh sentences handed down this week by a court in Bahrain to 20 medical staff, two leaders of a teachers’ association and at least 32 other individuals as a result of pro-democracy protests earlier this year.

The sentences range from three years’ imprisonment to the death penalty, 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, 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, who noted that the court is headed by three judges, all of whom are appointed by the chief of the Bahrain Defence Force, and cases are prosecuted by military public prosecutors.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also spoke out today, with a spokesperson stressing that health-care workers must be able to carry out their duty to treat injured people, regardless of their political affiliation, and even in times of conflict.

Read statement in full here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39894&Cr=Bahrain&Cr1=

 

UK Foreign Office Statement:

Speaking today the Foreign Secretary said:

“I am deeply concerned, that after the briefest of hearings, a Bahraini Special Tribunal has sentenced a group of medics to between 5 and 15 years in prison, upheld life sentences against Bahraini opposition leaders and passed one sentence of the death penalty.

“These sentences appear disproportionate to the charges brought. These are worrying developments that could undermine the Bahraini Government’s moves towards dialogue and the reform needed for long-term stability in Bahrain.

“I call on the Bahraini judicial authorities to follow due process carefully and transparently, and to revoke the decision to impose the death penalty.

“Cases before the Special Tribunals should be transferred to regular civilian courts. This would help the Bahraini authorities demonstrate their commitment to upholding civil liberties, including the right to appeal and equal access to justice.”

Read statement in full here: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=662942982

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