Bahrain trials of protesters flawed: Rights group

Human Rights Watch said the proceedings against protesters violated international standards.

Dubai: An international human rights group
on Tuesday criticised Bahrain`s trials of anti-government
protesters and opposition figures during last year`s uprising
in the Gulf nation, saying they failed to live up to
international standards.

Bahrain has put on trial hundreds of protesters and
opposition figures as well as doctors and nurses who treated
injured demonstrators during the unrest for taking part in the
Shiite-led campaign for greater rights from Sunni rulers.

Human Rights Watch said the proceedings against protesters
in civilian courts and military-style tribunals violated
international standards for fair trials, including denying the
right to counsel and failing to investigate allegations of
torture during interrogations.

"These violations reflect serious, systematic problems
with Bahrain`s criminal justice system and the role of the
military and intelligence services in state oppression," the
New York-based group said in a statement introducing a 90-page
on the uprising-linked trials in Bahrain.

A special security court with military prosecutors has
convicted dozens of people of anti-state crimes and sentenced
them to lengthy prison terms. The special tribunal was set up
after Bahrain imposed martial law last March to quell the
unprecedented political unrest.

Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Five months later,
authorities abolished the military-linked court and
transferred protest-related trials to civilian courts after an
international panel investigating the unrest criticised the
use of the military-style courts to prosecute government

After the special tribunal trials were halted, the
military prosecutors referred 1,622 cases to civilian courts,
the state-run Bahrain News Agency said in a report Sunday,
citing the country`s Supreme Judicial Council that had been
charged with reviewing protest-related proceedings.

Of those 1,622 cases, 1,185 were "shelved," BNA said. It
did not say what the charges against the 1,185 defendants were
and whether all of them were dropped.

More than 40 people have been killed since Bahrain`s
majority Shiites took their grievances against the ruling
Sunni dynasty to the streets in unprecedented numbers a year
ago. Hundreds of opposition supporters were detained in a wave
security sweeps and raids around the strategic Gulf island,
the home of the US Navy`s 5th Fleet.


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