While expressing concern about the situation in Bahrain, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday (24 April) urged the Gulf state’s authorities to resolve the case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a human rights defender serving a life sentence handed down by a military court on alleged terrorism-related charges, who has been on a hunger strike for eleven weeks.
“The Secretary-General once again urges the Bahraini authorities to resolve Mr. Al-Khawaja’s case based on due process and humanitarian considerations without any further delay,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
Earlier this month, a group of UN experts had called for the immediate release of Mr. Al-Khawaja, who was due to receive a final verdict from Bahrain’s Court of Cassation today. However, according to media reports, the verdict has been postponed until 30 April.
Mr. Ban also called on Bahraini authorities to fully respect the fundamental human rights of the Bahraini people, including due process concerning all detainees.
In addition, Mr. Ban “remains concerned about the situation in Bahrain, particularly with regard to the continuing clashes between security forces and protesters which have resulted in more casualties,” the statement said. “He reiterates his appeal to all sides for utmost restraint and an immediate end to the violence.”
Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the country. The Secretary-General has consistently called for authorities there to exercise restraint and act in accordance with their international human rights obligations.
A group of four United Nations independent human rights experts had earlier strongly called on the Government of Bahrain to seriously reconsider the offer by Denmark to transfer, on humanitarian grounds, Mr. Al-Khawaja – a citizen of both countries – to Copenhagen for medical treatment.
“I am seriously concerned that Mr. Al-Khawaja’s trial and sentence are linked to his legitimate work to promote human rights in Bahrain,” said the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. “This case is sadly emblematic of the overall treatment of human rights defenders in Bahrain.”
The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez. expressed similar concerns.
Source: UN News Centre
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