29 March 2017 – Bahrain today sentenced two to death and deprived eight of their citizenship today. There are now 14 individuals on death row in Bahrain, six of them sentenced this past week alone. The majority of them have been sentenced for politically-related charges. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has seen the court document listing the charges against the defendants.Mohammad Ebrahim Mulla Radhi Al-Tooq, 24, and Mohammad Radhi Abdulla Hassan, 23, were sentenced to death today on charges of establishing a terror cell and killing a police officer.
An opposition news outlet reported that at least one of the twenty-four defendants claimed to be tortured during the trial. This would render the trial unfair. Eight individuals were deprived of their nationality, including the two sentenced to death. Bahrain has arbitrarily deprived the nationality of over 350 individuals since 2012. One of their co-defendants was Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi, 17, was designated a terrorist by the US State Department just eleven days ago.
Among the twenty-four defendants in the case was Sheikh Hassan Isa, a former Member of the Bahraini Parliament, whom the court sentenced 10 years in prison for illegally gathering money. Sheikh Hassan Isa, a Shia cleric, was one of 18 opposition MPs of the opposition Al-Wefaq party who resigned from the 40-seat chamber in protest of state abuses during the 2011 Arab Spring. Al-Wefaq, whom the government dissolved in the past year, stated at the time of Sheikh Hassan Isa’s 2015 arrest: “Sheikh Hasan Isa is a known advocate for peaceful movement. Accusing him of funding suspects of terrorism is absolutely void and raises disgust and amusement at the same time.”
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD: “The number of people on death row has nearly doubled in just one week. Our work on the cases of other death row inmates, including three who were unlawfully executed, shows that torture is rife and the courts deny the defendants legal counsel. As long as the United Kingdom continues to support Bahrain financially without publicly criticising these abuses, they give Bahrain a free hand to continue violating rights.”
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain: “Both Washington and London look like they have abandoned human rights in their foreign policy, and this has emboldened the Government of Bahrain to double-down on its repression and human rights violations, including death penalties and reprisals against former politicians.”
BIRD has recorded torture, denial of legal counsel and unfair trial in the cases of others on death row, including the trial of three men whom Bahrain illegally executed in January 2017.
In January, Bahraini authorities executed three men who had been tortured to confess to terrorism offences. Their allegations of torture were dismissed, and their trials were unfair. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called the executions appalling, while the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions said on Twitter, “Torture, unfair trials and flimsy evidence: these are extrajudicial killings.”
There are currently 14 individuals on death row in Bahrain. Of them, 11 are Bahrainis sentenced on politically-related charges, two of whom were sentenced in absentia and are not in custody. Three cases have resulted in the death sentence in the past week, with six newly sentenced.
Two death row inmates have exhausted all legal appeals and are at risk of imminent execution. Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa were sentenced to death in December 2015, following unfair trials based on confessions extracted under torture.
The UK government’s multi-million pound technical assistance package to Bahrain, begun in 2012 and continuing until present, has largely failed to address continued unfair trials and death sentences. In 2016, it was revealed that Bahrain’s UK-trained Ombudsman, a non-independent body intended to investigate torture, ignored Mohammad Ramadan’s torture complaint for two years and misled the FCO. The Ombudsman has since opened a new investigation, which ended late last year and was passed on to another investigative body tied to the state. The Ombudsman has obstructed Ramadan’s lawyer access to the findings of their investigations.