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Freedom House Condemns Bahrain High Court’s Decision to Uphold Sentences of Pro-Democracy Leaders
Freedom House condemns the decision by Bahrain’s highest court today to uphold the sentences of 13 pro-democracy leaders. The activists, who include 2012 Freedom Award winner Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, are a symbol of the widespread demand of the Bahraini people for political reform, and their continued imprisonment is a reflection of the government’s unwillingness to meet this demand.
In June 2011, a military court charged twenty leaders of peaceful February 14 uprising with attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced them to terms ranging from 5 years to life. Seven of the leaders were tried in absentia and are in hiding or have left the country. The remaining 13 filed appeals, and a civilian appeals court upheld their sentences in September 2012. The January 2013 decision was the final opportunity for the activists to have their verdicts overturned.
In November 2011, Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) released a report criticizing the government’s reaction to the February 2011 protests and calling for reforms. The government pledged to implement the BICI’s recommendations, but evidence of real commitment to reform remains lacking, if anything, Bahrain is moving in the wrong direction.
Bahrain is rated Not Free in the 2012 editions of Freedom House’s Freedom in the World, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom on the Net surveys.
Freedom in the World 2012 Bahrain
Freedom of the Press 2012 Bahrain
Freedom on the Net 2012 Bahrain
Countries at the Crossroads 2012 Bahrain
Blog: The Best and Worst Human Rights Developments of 2012
Press Release: Bahrain Must Commit to Real Reform One Year After Commission's Recommendations
In the News: One Year On, Bahrain Is No Closer to Reform