Bahrain lifts state of emergency laws as king calls for national dialogue

[JURIST] Bahrain on Wednesday lifted its emergency laws imposed in mid-March that allowed for a crackdown against journalists and opposition leaders. The move may be a sign that the uprising in Bahrain is winding down. Despite the lifting of the emergency laws, Bahrain filed charges [CNN report] against four opposition leaders in the Al Wefaq party [official website]. Parliamentary elections are set for September to replace the Al Wefaq ministers who left in protest of the emergency laws imposed. A day before lifting the emergency laws, Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] called on his country to have a national dialogue for reform [Aljazeera report] as the military pulled out of some areas of the capital Manama. But many protesters say that they will remain vigilant until their demands for democratic reform are met.

Last month, a Bahrain court unanimously upheld death sentences [JURIST report] 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 a special court under the emergency laws, during the Shiite-led protests in Bahrain. The special court and other measures 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. 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.

 

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