Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 10:56 GMT

UN human rights office disappointed by Bahrain's decision to uphold conviction of 13 activists

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 8 January 2013
Cite as UN News Service, UN human rights office disappointed by Bahrain's decision to uphold conviction of 13 activists, 8 January 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50efd9182.html [accessed 30 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

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.

NBCentralAsia: What form does the intimidation of asylum-seekers by the Uzbek security service take?

Ryabinina: They warn asylum-seekers that if they refuse to return voluntarily, their relatives would suffer. In one case, a client of ours who was subject to a provisional ruling from the ECHR and was awaiting a full judgement there received a phone call from Uzbekistan telling him that his brother was into custody and would be sent to prison unless he returned.

Almost everyone who is arrested in Russia on an Uzbek warrant is visited either by SNB or FSB officers who pressure them not to contact lawyers or human rights defenders, warning them that if they do so, things will be even worse for them once they are back in Uzbekistan.

Although in most cases we succeed in blocking extraditions, there are times when people buckle under this kind of pressure and turn down our help. A tragic fate awaits them on their return to Uzbekistan.

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