SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT UNITED NATIONS - The UN human rights office Friday voiced concern at the harsh sentences handed down this week by a court in Bahrain to 20 medical staff, two leaders of a teachers association and at least 32 other individuals. The sentences range from three years imprisonment to the death penalty, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva, according to a news release issued at UN Headquarters in New York. The Court of National Safety, effectively a military court, also upheld the sentences of 21 others. For such harsh sentences to be handed down to civilians in a military court with serious due process irregularities raises severe concerns, said Colville. We call on the Government to ensure that every detained person is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and has enough time to prepare a defence case, he added. The Government, which has been has engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters calling for greater democracy, has announced that all cases will be referred to civilian courts in October. While OHCHR welcomes this announcement, it said that it is unclear how appeals by those who have been convicted in military courts will be handled in the civilian courts. The Office has spoken out several times in recent months over harsh sentences issued by the Court of National Safety against protesters.