Bahrain approves military trial for civilians

Bahrain's upper house of parliament approved a constitutional amendment which grants military courts the right to try civilians.

Published: 05th March 2017 08:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2017 08:46 PM   |  A+A-

By Associated Press

DUBAI: Bahrain's upper house of parliament on Sunday approved a constitutional amendment which grants military courts the right to try civilians, sparking concern for the fate of activists already in custody.

The 40-seat Shura Council, the upper parliamentary chamber appointed by the king in the Gulf state, unanimously approved an amendment to Article 105, members of the council told AFP.

The amendment drops a clause limiting military trials to members of the armed forces or other security branches. Civilians charged with "damaging public interest" or with terrorism, a vague legal term, could now face courts-martial.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain last month marked six years since protests demanding constitutional reform in the Shiite-majority kingdom erupted in the capital Manama.

King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, whose family has ruled Bahrain for two centuries, declared a three-month state of emergency in 2011 during which special military courts were established to try civilians.

Sunday's move comes two weeks after approval by parliament's elected lower chamber, and has sparked concern among rights activists for Bahraini civilians -- including those already in detention.

"We are concerned that they will choose someone to make an example of," Said Yousif al-Muhafdha, vice-president of the non-governmental Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), told AFP.

Leading Shiite cleric Issa Qassem, who was stripped of his Bahraini citizenship last year, could be one such example, according to Muhafdha.

Qassem is currently on trial on a string of charges which include inciting unrest. His citizenship was revoked over charges that he incited religious tensions.

Hundreds of Shiite protesters including high-profile opposition leaders have been arrested since 2011, as Bahraini authorities make sweeping use of counter-terrorism legislation.

Prominent Shiite human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, a BCHR founder, is also in custody facing trial on a list of charges, including spreading "false information" about Bahrain.

Authorities in the small but strategic archipelago state have accused Shiite-dominated Iran of meddling in the domestic affairs of Arab countries in the Gulf.

Iran has consistently denied the charge.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp