As the Arab Spring has turned to summer, journalists across the Middle East and North Africa remain active in their efforts to provide a voice from inside the conflict zones. Yet, unsurprisingly, these pursuits have often been met with extraordinary consequences: imprisonment, torture, and in some cases, even death. Since demonstrators in Tunisia took to the streets last December, the world has witnessed an unprecedented assault on journalists — an assault that shows no sign of letting up.

On Wednesday, it was reported that a Bahraini court sentenced eight Shiite men, including prominent human rights activist and blogger Abduljalil al-Singace, to life in prison on charges of conspiring to topple the country’s Sunni royal family. Thirteen other activists, including well-known blogger Ali Abdulemam, were handed down sentences ranging from two to fifteen years in prison.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the government of Bahrain to allow the men to appeal their sentences, while the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the court’s verdict, arguing that the ruling was politicized and the trial was fraught with “legal and procedural shortcomings.”

CPJ claims Wednesday’s ruling “further cements 2011 as the worst year for press freedom in Bahrain since the island kingdom declared its independence in 1971.” The organization has documented “dozens of cases of journalist detentions in Bahrain, the death in custody of two journalists, the shutdown of the country’s premier independent daily, arbitrary deportations, an orchestrated smear campaign against independent journalists and activists, and a large number of physical assaults against reporters since mid-February.”

This is just the latest episode in a series of crackdowns against journalists in the region.

On June 15, the Agence France-Presse’s Jordan bureau was attacked by ten men, reportedly“swinging clubs” and “destroying furniture, in a rare attack on the international media in the kingdom.” A day earlier, gunmen in Yemen stormed the headquarters of the independent dailyAl-Adhwaa in response to published articles critical of the ruling party.

In Libya, well-known journalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack; “citizen” journalist Mohammad “Mo” Nabbous, who set up an independent internet TV station in Benghazi, was shot dead by Gaddafi soldiers; and four New York Times staffers were held captive for six days before being released.

As the Arab uprisings continue, journalists in the region will still be in the line of fire. The threat of torture, imprisonment, and death is a reality that conflict journalists accept. But the international community needs to step in to protect reporters. As the CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem said, “It is now incumbent on the international community, and particularly the kingdom’s closest allies, to unambiguously convey to Bahrain that such blatant contempt for basic rights will not be tolerated.”