Political Prisoners Excluded from Eid Al-Adha Releases: Analysis of Royal Pardon and Alternative Sentencing in June 2024

The following analysis by BIRD is 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 with information received from inmates and family members.

On 15 June 2024, Bahrain’s King issued a royal pardon for 545 prisoners on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha. The pardon largely excluded political prisoners, and should not be viewed as a step towards reform. 

The royal pardon in April 2024 had raised hopes within the Bahraini community that the government was willing to turn the page and end the issue of political prisoners. When news broke that the June pardon would include 545 individuals—a notably higher number than in previous pardons—there was hope that political prisoners still in Jau Prison would also be released. 

However, the outcome of the pardon was disappointing. 


    • 423 expats on criminal charges, making up 78% of those released and are expected to be deported.
    • 8 political prisoners were included in the royal pardon, constituting only 1.5% of the total individuals included in the pardon.
        • 4 political prisoners were released from Dry Dock Prison (all under the age of 21): 
          • Maytham Mahmoud, Bassim Al-Helal, Mohamed Yusuf Al-Tamar, Mohamed Muneer Mushaima. We know that 2 of them served over half of their 3-month sentence on charges related to unlawful gathering and rioting.  
        • 3 political prisoners were serving an alternative sentence: 
            • Hisham al-Sabbagh, who is a prominent figure of the now-dissolved al-Amal party 
            • Husain Alhanan
            • Khodair Radhi Khodair
        • 1 was pardoned due to a medical condition.

The pardon did not include any high profile opposition leaders or political prisoners convicted on long-term sentences or any of the over 500 political prisoners that continue to be detained in Jau Prison.

On 18 June 2024, the Ministry of Interior announced that 106 prisoners would be eligible for alternative sentencing, meaning they will be released from prison.

Based on information received from inmates who were released, BIRD estimates that only 5 of them were political prisoners—3 of whom were released from Jau Prison and 2 of whom were released from Dry Dock Prison. 

They make up 4.7% of the total individuals who were included in the recent list of alternative sentencing. 

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