Bahrain's Appeal National Safety Court on Sunday unanimously upheld [BNA report] death sentences for two men convicted of killing police officers during anti-government protests in March. The court reduced the death sentences [JURIST report] of two others to life in prison. The four men were tried in the special appeals security court set up by Royal Decree in March, under emergency law, during the Shiite-led protests in Bahrain. The special court and other measure implemented under emergency law have been heavily criticized by various human rights groups. Nabeel Rajab, leader of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [advocacy website] criticized the ruling, expressing his concern that the cases are politically motivated and an attempt for the government to stop protests [Reuters report]. The date for the two executions has not yet been disclosed but would first require the approval of Bahrain's king. The death penalty is rarely used in Bahrain and typically not used against the country's citizens.
Last week, Bahrain's Lower National Safety Court sentenced nine citizens to 20 years in prison [JURIST report] for kidnapping a police officer. The decision was announced by the government-owned Bahrain News Agency, without details of the charges or the incident. Among the convicted was prominent Shiite cleric Mohammed Habib al-Saffaf. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights [advocacy website] said that all nine were involved in previous anti-government demonstrations [statement]. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] has urged the government of Bahrain to release detained activists [JURIST report] and exercise restraint against protesters.