The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has censured the government in Bahrain for its harsh crackdown on dissent, calling on Manama to carry out fundamental reforms.
Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein on Thursday expressed concern about frequent cases of arrest of dissidents in Bahrain, saying such measures show that the government is determined to muzzle rights campaigners in the country, Bahraini media reported.
The senior UN official, who was delivering his main annual speech to the UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva, called on the government and courts in Bahrain to stop handing down sentences that strip dissidents of their nationality, saying the Persian Gulf country is in need of “deep and fundamental reforms.”
For more than four years, people in Bahrain have been staging protests in towns and villages to demand more of a say in the political system. The ruling Al Khalifa regime, backed by major ally Saudi Arabia, has responded with a heavy-handed crackdown, killing more than a hundred and jailing hundreds more, including senior opposition leaders.
A Bahraini court on Thursday handed down life sentences to three protesters, saying they attacked a bus during a demonstration in November 2014. The court also jailed another protester for 15 years over same convictions.
The court, however, failed to explain how come no bus passenger had been injured while the four are accused of having set the bus ablaze.
Prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said the four had also blocked a highway near the village of Sanabis.