Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging the government of Bahrain to allow political activists involved in the Arab Spring opposition movement to appeal their harsh sentences.
A Bahrain court on Wednesday handed down eight life sentences and other harsh penalties to 21 people in an attempt to cripple protests against the regime.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday that Ban also urged government authorities to act "in strict accordance with their international human rights obligations" and ensure the convicts rights to due process and a fair trial.
The U.N. chief stressed that a national dialogue announced by the king should fulfill the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, Nesirky said.
(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. Corrects to say eight were sentenced to life in prison instead of death. For global distribution.)