August 1, 2013 - 14:32 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Bahrain's King Hamad has toughened penalties in anti-terrorism laws before planned anti-government protests this month, approving proposals that have alarmed human rights groups which fear a crackdown on the demonstrations, Reuters reported.
Inspired by the mass demonstrations in Egypt that led to the army's overthrow of an Islamist president last month, a protest movement in Bahrain has called for rallies on August 14.
At an extraordinary session of parliament, lawmakers agreed to recommendations including stripping those who commit or call for "terrorist crimes" of their nationality and preventing any protests in the capital Manama.
The king, whose island state is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, endorsed the proposals and on Wednesday, July 31 issued two decrees enacting tougher laws, the Bahrain News Agency said.
The amendments prescribe a jail sentence of not less than 10 years on "anyone who carries out a bombing ... or attempts to carry out a bombing for terrorism purposes".
The penalty increases to death or life imprisonment if the bombing results in any death or injury, while anyone who puts or carries anything that resembles explosives or firecrackers in public places will receive prison terms.
"Perpetrators of dangerous terror crimes" can also have their citizenship revoked, the amendments say.
For those convicted of collecting money for a "terrorism purpose", the sentence is life imprisonment or a minimum 10-year sentence, in addition to a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 dinars ($265,300 to $1.33 million).
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said it was concerned that the changes heralded a new crackdown by the authorities.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had also criticized the lawmakers' proposals for harsher anti-terrorism penalties, some of which the king has now made law.