“We continue to receive reports of the repression of small protests and understand that at least 264 cases involving protesters remain pending before the courts, many of whom may be tried in the Court of National Safety, which is effectively a military court,” said Rupert Colville on Tuesday, AFP reported.
Colville pointed out that civilians “must be tried in civilian courts, charged with a recognizable crime, and given access to lawyers and time to prepare their defense.”
He stated that some detainees were still “desperately calling their families to appoint lawyers a day before trial.”
“We are concerned that most of the defendants in these cases may be prisoners of conscience, detained only for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. All such detainees must be released,” Colville said.
About 124 cases in Bahrain have so far received verdicts, including two death sentences; sixteen of the cases were acquitted completely, while seven others were partially acquitted, according to the UN rights official.
Colville’s remarks come as a special security court on Sunday resumed the trial of 20 doctors and nurses accused of treating injured anti-government protesters in Bahrain. The court adjourned until September 7, when it will begin hearing defense witnesses.
The spokesman also called on the Bahraini government to release the list of the names of those arrested since March 15, as well as details on where they were being held and the charges and status of their trials.
Thousands of protesters in Bahrain have been holding peaceful anti-government demonstrations since mid-February, demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom.