22 June 2011 "It is deeply worrying that civilians are being tried before tribunals chaired by a military judge, with reports of abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions."

Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt said:

“I am extremely concerned by the process surrounding today’s sentencing of 21 opposition members and the nature of many of the charges. One of those found guilty is Ibrahim Sharif, a prominent moderate politician who has been a constructive participant in Bahraini politics and represents a registered political party. He was sentenced to five years. It is deeply worrying that civilians are being tried before tribunals chaired by a military judge, with reports of abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions.

The Bahraini Government has committed to a National Dialogue on 1st July, which must be supported with concrete actions to address the long-term challenges facing Bahrain. We will also expect any appeals process to thoroughly and transparently address the substantial concerns that have been raised in these tribunals.”

fco.gov.uk