UN rights chief slams Bahrain military trials

Bahrain has come under strong criticism from for cruel crackdown on Shiites.

Updated: May 05, 2011, 20:48 PM IST

Geneva: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay
on Thursday condemned death sentences imposed by military courts in
Bahrain on protesters accused of killings as well as military
trials for civilian activists.

"The application of the death penalty without due process
and after a trial held in secrecy is illegal and absolutely
unacceptable," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

"The defendants are entitled to fair trials before civil
courts, in accordance with international legal standards and
in keeping with Bahrain`s international human rights
obligations," she added in a statement.

Bahraini authorities have referred 47 doctors and nurses
to a military court after accusing them of abusing their posts
to take part in anti-regime protests that were crushed in

The UN human rights office said four protesters were
sentenced to death last week and three to life imprisonment
for the alleged killing of two policemen.

They were reportedly held without access to their
families and limited access to lawyers, it added.

The Gulf kingdom, which is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa
dynasty, has come under strong criticism from international
human rights organisations for its heavy-handed crackdown on
Shiites, including medical staff.

Authorities have said that 24 people were killed during
the unrest, most of them demonstrators.