Death penalty sentences 'escalated' in Bahrain since 2011
Death penalty sentences have increased dramatically in Bahrain since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, according to a report co-authored by Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and UK NGO Reprieve published on Tuesday.
At least 51 death sentences were issued from 2011 to 2021, a 600 percent rise compared to the previous decade, according to the report.
The use of torture, especially in cases related to terrorism charges, is "endemic" in the country, the report said, documenting that 83 percent of men executed in Bahrain were convicted of terrorism charges and 100 percent of these individuals made allegations of torture.
"The reality of the use of the death penalty and torture in Bahrain...is in stark contrast to the promises of human rights reform made by Bahrain in the aftermath of the Arab Spring," the report reads.
The publication of these findings comes exactly one year after the Bahraini Court of Cassation decided to uphold the death sentences against Mohammed Ramzan, a security guard at Bahrain's international airport, and Hussein Moosa, a hotel employee.
In a statement sent to The New Arab, Reprieve said Mohammed and Hussain were detained for attending "peaceful, pro-democracy protests" and have been convicted based on 'confessions' gained through torture.
“[Now] they face imminent execution by firing squad and their family and international observers may not even be notified in advance,” said Reprieve.
Husain Moosa was tortured. He wished for death. His torturers didn’t stop until he ‘confessed’. That so-called 'confession’ was used to sentence him to death. But thanks to you, we are fighting his death sentence. And we won’t stop until he is no longer at risk. Thank you 🧡 pic.twitter.com/14sREg8hdo— Reprieve (@Reprieve) July 13, 2021
The report also criticises the UK government for continuing to provide funding to Bahrain's government and for allegedly whitewashing its human rights abuses, despite saying it opposes the use of torture.
The UK's Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, said in July last year that the cases of Ramzan and Moosa were being "actively monitored", and added that "our efforts to raise these cases, and also the broader issues of the use of capital punishment, with the Bahraini authorities will continue".
However, in the report, Reprieve and BIRD said they are not aware of the UK government calling on the Bahraini authorities to halt Ramzan and Moosa's death sentences.
"Sentencing torture survivors to death for their opposition to the government is a heinous act," said the director of BIRD Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.
"The British government has a moral obligation to speak out against this injustice before it is too late," Alwadaei said.