Bahrain king approves military trials for civilians

The decision comes as the Sunni-ruled kingdom tightens its grip on dissent, with scores of largely Shiite activists sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges that include insulting the state, threatening national security and "terrorism".

Bahrain king approves military trials for civilians

World Bulletin / News Desk

Bahrain's king on Monday approved a constitutional amendment granting military courts the right to try civilians, raising concerns among rights groups for activists in the Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain, a key US ally that neighbours Saudi Arabia, has been rocked by frequent protests since authorities cracked down on Shiite-led demonstrations demanding political reforms in 2011.

Military courts were previously limited to trying members of the armed forces or other branches of the security services, and could only try civilians under a state of emergency.

Bahrain's King Hamad had declared a temporary three-month state of emergency after the crackdown on protests in 2011, allowing special courts to try civilians connected with a wave of protests.

With Monday's approval of the amendment, military courts now have the power to try any civilian accused of threatening state security.

The official BNA news agency said Hamad had approved the amendment to Article 105(b) of Bahrain's constitution.

An explanatory note tweeted by Bahraini MP Mohammed Al-Ahmed states that the amendment drops a phrase that restricted military courts to trying members of the "Bahrain Defence Forces, National Guard and Police". 

Monday's move coincided with a decision by the kingdom's top court to reduce the jail sentence of the leader of main Shiite opposition faction, Sheikh Ali Salman, who had been convicted of inciting hatred and insulting the state.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Nisan 2017, 17:47