Courts in Bahrain have handed down prison sentences to more than a dozen anti-regime protesters as the ruling Al Khalifah regime does not shy away from its heavy clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
On Sunday, Bahraini judiciary officials sentenced 13 defendants to five years in jail each after finding them guilty of “deliberately setting fire to a police patrol car and holding unlawful gatherings in the northern village of Abu Saiba,” the Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.
Separately, Bahrain’s Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a 15-year prison term against a defendant on trumped-up charges of stealing a car and then setting it ablaze with a gas cylinder back in 2014.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), in a statement released on November 13, announced that law courts have issued death sentences against 32 opposition figures since 2011, of which three have been carried out, seven have been commuted to life imprisonment and two others been appealed.
“All these verdicts have been pronounced following unfair trials, and therefore do not comply with the guarantees of fair trials. The BCHR has documented many cases in which those sentenced to death have been subjected to torture,” the statement read.
The BCHR then called on the Manama regime to reverse all death sentences and sign the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is aiming at the abolition of death penalty.
The center further noted that the Bahraini judiciary has overused death penalty in recent years, particularly with regards to freedom of opinion and expression in addition to the exercise of political rights.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.