The United Nations on Tuesday criticized the decision by Bahrain's highest court to uphold harsh sentences against 20 pro-democracy activists, some of whom received life imprisonment, DPA reported.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced "deep regrets" about the court's decision and reiterated "his firm belief that the only way to promote peace and stability, justice and prosperity, is through a national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
Nesirky said Ban urged the government in Bahrain to follow through with its commitment to reform the judicial system and hold political dialogue in which all Bahrainis can take part.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also criticized the high court's decision to uphold the convictions following two years of trial, during which human rights experts questioned the legal process applied against the activists.
"These persons are political and human rights activists, and we are concerned they may have been wrongly convicted for legitimate activities," said Cecile Pouilly, Pillay's spokesperson in Geneva.
"We are also concerned by the extreme harshness of some of the sentences, including imprisonment for life," she added.