14 January 2017 – The Government of Bahrain today has taken concerning action regarding the three torture victims on death row – Sami Mushaima, Abbas al-Samea, and Ali Abdulshaheed al-Singace. Reports indicate that Bahraini authorities have called a surprise mandatory visit for the families to meet with the three detainees. According to some reports from activists, the Bahraini government has in the past required mandatory family visits before execution of death row inmates. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) condemns in the strongest terms the threat of imminent execution of Mushaima, al-Samea, and al-Singace, as their death sentences are based on coerced confessions extracted during torture.
The Government of Bahrain first arrested the three detainees on 3 March 2014. Security forces arrested them in house raids on charges of allegedly using improvised explosive devices which led to the death of three police officers. State-sponsored media subsequently published photos of the defendants, accusing them of murder before the investigation was completed. The detainees allege that Bahraini authorities subjected them to severe torture to extract coerced confessions. The Bahraini authorities did not grant the defendants access to a lawyer during trial proceedings. Despite being presented with evidence to prove their innocence, the court convicted and sentenced them to the harshest of punishments. All defendants denied the charges against them and pleaded innocent.
On 26 February 2015, the High Criminal Court convicted Mushaima, al-Samea, and al-Singace of the charges and sentenced the three to death. The defendants appealed their sentences. On 31 May 2016, a Bahraini Appeals Court upheld the death sentence for the three individuals. Five days ago on 9 January 2017, the Court of Cassation in Bahrain again upheld the death sentence against the three defendants, exhausting their appeals process.
“Bahraini government officials operate within a state of impunity and feel they can carry out acts like executing innocent torture victims without reproach,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “The Bahraini government would not carry out such egregious crimes if authorities anticipated there would be strong condemnation from allies like the United States and United Kingdom when they did so. American and British authorities must work to ensure the executions are not carried out and publicly condemn the actions by the Bahraini government.”
The US State Department has funded a program that trains judges and prosecutors in Bahrain. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has a program in Bahrain that seeks to support democratic reform, which has been provided through the American Bar Association (ABA) Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI). By funding programs that train judges and prosecutors, the US State Department could appear complicit in the aforementioned actions carried out within the Bahraini judicial system and must work to ensure the lack of judicial independence ends.
According to article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty to which the Government of Bahrain has acceded, every individual has the right to life, and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his right. Article 6(2) mentions that countries which have not abolished the death penalty may not impose a death sentence against individuals if they cannot be guaranteed the right to a fair trial and where other ICCPR rights have been violated. This right to a fair trial will include the presumption of innocence and the right to examine witnesses.
ADHRB strongly condemns the threat of imminent execution against Sami Mushaima, Abbas al-Samea, and Ali Abdulshaheed al-Singace. We reiterate past actions by international NGOs to call upon the Government of Bahrain to immediately annul the death sentence convictions against the three individuals and release them from prison. Additionally we call upon Bahrain’s allies, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, to publicly denounce the sentences against the three individuals and work with Bahraini authorities in ensure the executions are not carried out.