Analysis of Bahrain’s Largest Royal Pardon – April 2024

On 8 April 2024, Bahrain King Hamad al-Khalifa issued a royal pardon for 1584 prisoners,  which included some 650 political prisoners in Bahrain. The pardon, which appears to be the largest of King Hamad’s reign, included political prisoners—marking an unusual break in state policy of largely pardoning only criminal prisoners. 

An in-depth analysis of the official names of released prisoners conducted by BIRD indicates the political prisoners, framed by the government as convicted on “riot” charges, represent no more than 42% of those released. In fact, about 32.58% of the released prisoners were expatriates convicted on criminal charges. The majority of those released were male prisoners, with 66 women included in the pardon. 

High profile releases include human rights defender Naji Fateel who was convicted to 25 years and 6 months, Sayed Nazar Alwadaei, brother-in-law of Sayed Alwadaei, who has been imprisoned since 2017, former MP from al-Wefaq Sheikh Hasan Isa, imprisoned since 2015 and journalist Mahmood al-Jeziri. 

Methodology: These estimates are based on a review of the official list published by the Government of Bahrain, with the names and CPR numbers of the prisoners cross-referenced with BIRD’s database of political prisoners that is kept up to date, and triangulated. 

Estimated Breakdown

Total political prisoners in pardon (all Bahraini and male): 652

          • Prisoners on political charges released from prison: 625
          • Prisoners on political charges serving alternative sentences: 27

Male prisoners in royal pardon: 1518

Female prisoners in royal pardon: 66

Total Expatriates pardoned on criminal charges: 516 

          • Male: 46
          • Female: 47

Total people pardoned on criminal charges: 932

          • Male: 866
              • Bahraini: 397
              • Expats: 469 
          • Female: 66
              • Bahraini: 19
              • Expat: 47 

Total Bahraini nationals: 1068

          • Bahrain female: 19
          • Bahrain male criminal: 397
          • Bahrain male political: 652
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