Bahraini authorities urged to release all human rights activistsListen /
Authorities in Bahrain have been urged to release all the people who have been detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The appeal has come from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay after an appeals court on Tuesday upheld convictions of 20 human rights activists and political opponents.
Charles Appel reports.
The 20 human rights activists and opposition leaders were initially convicted by a military court last year of conspiracy to overthrow the government and espionage, among other charges.
The UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, says she had welcomed the government's decision in September last year to transfer the cases to civilian courts.
However, she expresses concern about the lack of due process and the allegations of torture and irregularities in the trial processes.
She says it is extremely disappointing that the convictions and sentences have been upheld in appeals proceedings that often took place behind closed doors.
Ms. Pillay says that criticizing the government and calling for reforms are not crimes and the only way to defuse an increasingly tense situation is to engage in an open, genuine and meaningful dialogue with the opposition.
Charles Appel, United Nations