BIRD/Reprieve report exposes escalation in Bahrain’s use of the death penalty and torture since the Arab Spring, targeting pro-democracy protestors

Today, BIRD and Reprieve published a new joint-report ‘From Uprising to Execution’, which shows that Bahrain’s use of torture and the death penalty have drastically escalated since the Arab Spring protests in 2011 despite the government’s promises of human rights reform in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.   

The report’s key findings include that:

  • In the last decade death sentences in Bahrain have risen by over 600%, with 51 people being sentenced to death since the Arab Spring protests, compared with 7 death sentences in the decade before the Arab Spring. 
  • In 2019 the rate of executions in Bahrain was almost two-thirds of the per capita rate of executions in Iran, one of the world’s top executioners.

The report also shows that the use of torture is “endemic” in Bahrain, particularly in ‘terrorism-related’ death penalty cases. Its findings include that:

  • 83% of the men executed in Bahrain since 2011 were convicted of terrorism charges and 100% of these individuals alleged torture. 
  • 26 men currently facing imminent execution are on death row as a result of unsafe capital convictions and death sentences. 11 of them allege torture and court documents demonstrate that this includes individuals whose convictions were based on false torture ‘confessions’. All 11 cases are connected to political opposition. 
  • Torture investigations which meet minimum standards have not been carried out in any of these cases.  

Many of those convicted of ‘terrorism-related’ offences had attended pro-democracy protests, with overly broad definitions of terrorism in the Terrorism Act being used to detain protesters and opposition leaders. 

Indeed, the report’s publication today (13 July) marks the one year anniversary of the of the Bahraini Court of Cassation’s decision to uphold Hussain Moosa and Mohammed Ramadhan death sentences, who were tortured and convicted on the basis of a ‘confession’ obtained through torture following their attendance at peaceful, pro-democracy protests. They face imminent execution by firing squad and their family and international observers may not even be notified in advance. 

Mohammed has described being blindfolded, stripped, and beaten with iron rods. Hussain has described being beaten with shoes and batons, being sexually assaulted and threatened with rape, and deprived of food and water, while interrogators repeatedly ordered him to confess to killing a police officer. Hussain ‘confessed’ in order to end this torture and recanted in court.  

Download the Report or Read it Online

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, commenting on the launch of the report, said: “Sentencing torture survivors to death for their opposition to the government is a heinous act of revenge by Bahrain’s regime. For those facing imminent execution, the uncertainty of knowing they could be executed at any time is causing an unspeakable strain on their lives and those of their families. Having trained institutions which facilitated death sentences against political prisoners like Mohammed and Husain, the British government has a moral obligation to speak out against this injustice before it is too late.”

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