Bahrain: Death Penalty used as political revenge tools
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
25th November 2015
There is widespread opposition from the international human rights community regarding the death penalty sentences in criminal cases, let alone political ones. Repressive authorities generally use the death penalty against opposition members, fabricating accusations and charges against them to score political points and seek revenge wholly from a political aspect, and not a legal one. From a criminal point of view, the international human rights community calls for the abolishment of the death penalty as it believes there is no tangible deterrent value to stop the offence being committed again. From a human rights perspective, the penalty should be abolished, as it has become a means for political tactics that are contrary to human rights – like political revenge and the silencing of political opponents. This is especially true when considering the lack of an independent, impartial and fair judiciary and the absence of the principles of separation of powers, resulting in the absence of the most basic conditions of fair trials. No doubt, it will result in unfair judgments being handed down, which is what is happening in Bahrain. The legislature, the judiciary, and the executive falls into one hand that oversees and dispenses, yet is above questioning as he is considered “higher and untouchable”! From here the general provisions associated with death penalty loses its integrity, transparency and fair justice. Death penalties emanating from such judiciaries are immersed in international criticisms, and the penalty should be stopped.
7 sentenced to death following political pressure
Bahrain’s court since February 2011, has issued a number of death sentences, some in military courts and others in criminal courts, in contravention to Article 10 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. While these same courts have brushed aside cases of Bahraini security forces accused of killing citizens, as well as practices of torture in detention centres, andthe firing of live ammunition on peaceful protests.
The following have been sentenced to death in Bahrain since the popular 2011 uprising:
Maher Khabaz (29 years-old) – sentenced in 2014
Mohammed Isa (32 years-old) – sentenced in 2014
Hussain Moosa (28 years-old) – sentenced in 2014
The latest group of Bahrainis to be given the death penalty came on 26 February 2015, and they are: Abbas Alsamea, Sami Mushaima, Ali Alsingace. In addition to Salman Essa who been sentenced to death on 29th April 2015.
Whilst one of them will also have his citizenship stripped for alleged involvement in the killing of an Emirati police officer, Tariq Al-shihi, in 2014.
In the same case, the court also sentenced 7 other Bahrainis to citizenship stripping.
As such, the total number of Bahrainis on death row has risen to 7, all coming from politically related backgrounds following the uprising in 2011.
Defendants: “The cases are fabricated, the torture is brutal, and death penalty sentence too severe”
All those sentenced to death have complained of the same or similar treatments and processes. These include rough arrests, harsh torture and obscure and questionable evidences. These all strongly indicate and illustrate a political scheme. The typical practices endured by death row inmates include:
- Long periods of forced standing
- Beatings with hose pipe and metal sticks
- Threats that a family member will be targeted
- Sleep deprivation
- Food deprivation
- Prayer deprivation
- Toilet deprivation
- Beatings in sensitive areas, such as the genitalia
- Cold water splashing
- Forced stay in cold rooms
- Suspension from ceiling (falaqa)
- Stripping of clothes
- Sexual assaults
- Solitary confinement
Death row prisoner, Abbas Alsamea, confirmed such practices after his sentencing on 26 February 2015, stating:
“The monstrous physical and psychological torture was unbearable, my family were threatened, and even my lawyers were threatened from being expelled and having their licences revoked.”
1 – Urge the UN Human Rights Council and involved bodies to prevent countries like Bahrain, which lack justice and fairness and have a history of trial manipulation, from issuing and carrying out death penalties, specifically against political and human rights activists.
2 – Expect from the international community to oppose and restrain death sentences lacking conditions of fairness, transparency and fair litigation, and compel the Government of Bahrain to abolish the death penalty against political and human rights activists who exercise their right to freedom of expression.
3 – Request that the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to visit Bahrain.
4 – Oblige the Government of Bahrain to set a date for Special Rapporteurs to visit, communicate and meet with death row prisoners.
5 – Urge the Government of Bahrain to find alternative sentences for prisoners found to be guilty by an independent and fair judiciary.