15 January 2017 – Bahrain today executed three torture victims following authorisation by King Hamad. Sami Mushaima (42), Ali Al-Singace (21) and Abbas Al-Samea (27) were executed this morning by firing squad, the first people executed in Bahrain since July 2010, and the first Bahrainis executed since March 1996. The execution came less than a week after the Court of Cassation upheld their death sentence on 9 January. We, the undersigned, condemn Bahrain’s violation of the individuals’ rights to life and their rights not to be tortured, and complete failure to consider and investigate the torture under which their confessions, the basis of their convictions, were extracted.
Events began yesterday, 14 January, when reports indicated that the security forces were preparing to carry out the death sentences. Authorities in the legal department at the Central Jau Prison, where the three are held, called their families on the morning to schedule mandatory visits for later that day. This directive is in accordance with Article 330 of Bahrain’s Criminal Procedure Code, which states that relatives of persons scheduled for execution will be permitted a final visit before the sentence is carried out.
Contrary to standard visitation practice, when the families arrived at the prison they were taken in police cars to a second location and very heavily searched. The families described being surrounded by over fifty police officers. Al-Samea, Al-Singace and Mushaima had not been informed of these procedures and were surprised by the events. Prior to the announcement of the executions, the families told NGOs that they believed the procedures were implemented as preparations before carrying out the death sentences.
Sami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace and Abbas Al-Samea are all torture victims rendered stateless and condemned to death following unfair trials (see more below). Their executions have sparked widespread protests across the country. Activists stated yesterday that some 200 family visits to Jau Prison previously scheduled for today had been cancelled.
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain: “The death sentences were authorised by King Hamad himself. He condemned to death victims of senseless torture, and their blood is on his hands. The international community must show solidarity with the families of Abbas, Ali and Sami and condemn this execution. The United States in particular should re-impose its arms ban.”
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy: “This is a black day in Bahrain’s history. It is the most heinous crime committed by the Government of Bahrain and a shame upon its rulers, which knew about the torture of the three. It has been the subject of complaints and was raised by the defence in their trials, and been utterly ignored. King Hamad’s decision to have them killed shows a new contempt to the victims of Bahrain’s abuses. This act is a security threat to Bahrain and the entire region. The United Kingdom has repeatedly failed to condemn violations and allowed itself to be complicit in these events.”
On 14 January, BIRD, ADHRB and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) wrote to the government of the United Kingdom urging for immediate action to be taken. Alongside Reprieve, they also wrote to the United States and European External Action Service. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions called on Bahrain to stop the execution.
Lead up to the Executions: Torture and an Unfair Trial
The Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeals, upheld the death sentences of Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea, and Ali Abdulshaheed Al-Singace on Monday 9 January 2017. The court papers, which BIRD has analysed, show that the Court rejected and ignored the allegations of torture brought by the defence without proper investigation.
The three, alongside seven other defendants sentenced to prison terms, were arrested nearly three years ago, on and after 3 March 2014. Security forces arrested them in house raids on charges of allegedly using improvised explosive devices which led to the death of three police officers, one of them an Emirati citizen. State-sponsored media quickly published photos of the defendants accusing them of murder before the investigation was completed. On 26 February 2015, the High Criminal Court convicted them of all charges and handed down the defendants’ sentences, including stripping them of their citizenship. We, the undersigned, have previously condemned the sentence for unfair trial procedures and the use of evidence extracted under conditions of torture.
In October 2016, the government ordered a retrial for the eight defendants, and last month, an appeals court upheld the death sentence against al-Samea, al-Singace, and Mushaima. After just one month, the Court of Cassation convened to uphold the sentence a final time. The three individuals were facing imminent execution after exhausting all legal remedies.
We have previously recorded the torture allegations of Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima, two of the three sentenced to death. Al-Samea, a teacher, was at school at the time of the bombing incident. Sami Mushaima is illiterate. Bahraini authorities subjected them to torture and convicted them of plotting and carrying out the attack. The Court of Cassation claimed that “there was no evidence of coercion in the case documents.” No investigation into the torture allegations was conducted during any of the several trial stages.
Abbas al-Samea was arrested on 3 March 2014, three hours after the bombing incident that sparked the arrests. Security forces repeatedly kicked him in the head and body and hit him in the face with a gun. After arriving at the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID), security forces took al-Samea into a series of rooms, subjecting him to different kinds of torture in each one. In one room security forces handcuffed and stripped al-Samea naked before kicking him repeatedly in his genitals. In another room, five officers stood on al-Samea’s chest. Security forces also subjected al-Samea to electric shocks in private and sensitive areas, including his genitals. Security forces beat al-Samea while he was suspended from the ceiling and denied him access to food and water for three days. Al-Samea has also reported that the Public Prosecutor threatened him with additional torture if he did not confess to being culpable in the explosion.
Forces also arrested Sami Mushaima in March 2014 and held them incommunicado for at least 11 days. Security officials subjected Mushaima to beatings, electrocution, and sexual assault. His front teeth were severely damaged. Mushaima’s family believes he was coerced into falsely confessing through the use of torture.
Additionally, during their detention at Jau Prison, a riot took place at the facility on 10 March 2015 in protest of overcrowding and the abusive treatment of inmates. The riot, in which only a minority of inmates participated, was met with excessive force. Officer collectively punished hundreds of prisoners, which included beatings and humiliation. A small number of prisoners, Al-Samea among them, were selected for transfer to “Building 10,” where reports allege authorities subject detainees to severe torture. Al-Samea’s nose was broken and his teeth were knocked out.
Two other persons facing imminent execution in Bahrain. In addition to today’s victims, in 2015 the Court of Cassation upheld the sentences of Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa, sentenced to death in 2014 for their alleged role in the death of a policeman. They now face imminent execution. Both allege that they were tortured. Ramadan maintains that someone from the government has told him they knew he was innocent, but that he was a traitor deserving of these violations.
We, the undersigned, condemn today’s executions, which violated Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea and Ali Al-Singace’s right to life. We call on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Instate a moratorium on the death penalty.
- Investigate the torture of Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea and Ali Al-Singace, prosecute their torturers and compensate their families for their torture and deaths.
- Allow immediate the entry of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
- Ratify and accede to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OP-CAT)
We call on the governments of the United Kingdom and United States to:
- Publicly and unequivocally condemn today’s executions
- Instate a complete arms ban against the Bahraini government until the abovementioned recommendations and promised human rights reforms have all been implemented
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights