1 February 2018 – Today, the Fourth High Criminal Court in Bahrain concluded the trial of 32 defendants. The court issued a death sentence against Moosa Abdallah Moosa, who was accused of killing a police officer in Abu-Saiba in 2015. In addition, the Court sentenced 13 defendants to life imprisonment, eight defendants to 15-year imprisonment, four defendants to three to five years imprisonment, and acquitted 6 individuals. Of the 32 defendants, 25 were revoked of their citizenship. By doing so, the Bahraini authorities have rendered stateless the overwhelming majority of those 25 individuals.
BIRD has spoken to a lawyer who is representing some of the defendants. He has confirmed the above sentences were overseen by notorious, Judge Ali Al- Dahrani.
The sentences continue the extreme crackdown inflicted by the Bahraini government on political dissidents. Yesterday alone, the Fourth High Criminal Court in Bahrain issued sentences to 60 dissidents, which included the decision to impose death sentences on two men and the revocation of citizenship of 47 individuals. Moreover, four female activists were sentenced to five years in prison.
BIRD condemns the outcome of this deeply unfair and inhumane trial in the strongest possible terms.
Commenting, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD, said: “Today’s ruling by the Bahraini court makes a mockery of justice and demonstrates a worrying trend: the criminal justice system, clearly, is being used to exact the harshest punishment on vulnerable civilians. Coerced confessions have become the norm for the judiciary in their deliverance of suffering to the people. The multi-billion arms deal with the US and UK is ongoing, and seemingly unconditional training programmes facilitate the dire human rights situation in Bahrain”.
In its most recent report on Bahrain, the UN Committee Against Torture found that both “torture” and the “acceptance by judges of forced confessions” are “widespread”. In addition, research conducted by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) indicates, for the last few years, every death sentence in relation to political unrest has been based on coerced confessions. Although it is not yet clear whether that holds true in this case, it is a distinct possibility.
Revocations of Citizenship Since 2012
Today’s judgment added a total of 72 persons revoked of their citizenship in this week alone. According to BIRD’s documentation, there have been 578 cases in which the citizenship of a Bahraini national has been revoked by the government since 2012. Predominantly, this trend has affected political activists who have sought to speak out about human rights abuses in the country. As such, the revocation of citizenship has become a powerful tool that the Bahraini government uses to silence dissent.
Records of citizenship revocation per year
72 in 2018
156 in 2017
90 in 2016
208 in 2015
21 in 2014
31 in 2012
Death Sentences in Bahrain
Despite pressure from the UN and the international community, the death penalty remains an integral part of the Bahraini legal system. There are currently 22 Bahraini nationals on death row, sentenced in political cases, while 14 of those were sentenced to death in 2017 alone; this represents the highest number of death sentences to have been issued in Bahrain since the establishment of regular courts in 1923.
In January 2017, three torture victims, Abbas AlSameea, Sami Mushaima and Ali Alsingace, were executed six days after of the Court of Cassation upheld their death sentence. This is widely considered to be the first execution related to political unrest in Bahrain since 1996.