Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, expressed great concern when he learned of today’s appeals verdicts against a group of opposition activists in Bahrain. Among the eight who received life sentences is Danish-Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al‑Khawaja.
Although there had been first indications of a dialogue and some reforms had been announced, the crisis within Bahrain continues. Markus Löning issued the following statement today (4 September 2012):
I am deeply disappointed that the life sentences handed down to members of the opposition in Bahrain have been confirmed. The state must protect free speech, not punish it. The verdict is a setback for human rights and the process of reconciliation in Bahrain. Releasing those who have been sentenced would send the right signal.
Abdulhadi al‑Khawaja was arrested in spring 2011 alongside large numbers of other activists in the context of the violent clashes then taking place in Bahrain; a special tribunal sentenced him to life in prison. Eight life sentences were among the verdicts confirmed today for the group of 20 activists. A final appeal to the cassation court is now possible.
The Federal Foreign Office calls on the government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations of the Bassiouni report completely and to enter into a genuine political dialogue to resolve the crisis in the country.