On 14 May 2019, Julie Ward, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), sent a letter to the Ambassador of Bahrain to Belgium regarding the death sentences upheld against two Bahraini men – Ahmed AlMalali and Ali AlArab. In her letter, the MEP urges a moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards abolition. Additionally, she calls on the king to pardon and release both men, who recently had their death sentences upheld by Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 6 May 2019. AlMalali and AlArab now face imminent execution in Bahrain after being sentenced in an unfair mass trial, bringing the total number of individuals at imminent risk of execution in the kingdom up to eight.

In 2017, the Bahraini Coastguard arrested Ahmed AlMalali at sea without presenting a warrant. The arrest was violent and AlMalali was shot twice in the hand and suffered a broken leg. Despite these wounds, the bullets were not removed until 23 days later and his leg was only treated with a splint. Following his arrest, AlMalali was held incommunicadoand subjected to torture by Bahraini authorities. AlMalali’s torture included beatings, exposure to cold, forced standing, and electrocution. Ultimately, he was charged with possessing illegal firearms, training in the use of firearms, and membership in a terrorist cell, and in 2018, AlMalali was sentenced to death in a mass trial.

Ali AlArab was arrested at the home of an acquaintanceby Bahraini Ministry of Interior (MOI) personnel in 2017. AlArab was held for a period of time at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and then transferred to Dry Dock detention center, where he was repeatedly tortured – including frequent beatings, electrocution, and removal of toenails. As a result, AlArab suffered permanent hearing loss, nerve damage, and had difficulty standing. Authorities also forced AlArab to sign a confession while blindfolded. As a result of this confession, AlArab was charged with killing a security officer on 29 January 2017, firing on and wounding members of a security patrol on 14 January 2017, and the illegal possession of firearms. He was also sentenced to death in 2018 in a mass trial.

Currently, all that stands between these men and their executions is ratification from Bahrain’s king, placing them at imminent risk. A number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have cited the cases of Ahmed AlMalali and Ali AlArab, along with the six other individuals sentenced to die pending the king’s approval, as requiring “urgent action.”

In her letter, MEP Ward called on Bahrain to immediately place a moratorium on the death penalty, with the “aim of permanent abolition.” In addition, she asked that Bahrain immediately release both AlMalali and AlArab, drop their sentences, and compensate them for their torture and unjust imprisonment. Furthermore, MEP Ward called on the Kingdom of Bahrain to release and pardon all other political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and/or those held unjustly. She also urged Bahrain to immediately open a dialogue in order to “resolve tensions between the government and opposition.” Ward echoed two earlier United Nations Special Procedures communication, dated 31 July 2018 and 11 December 2018, which expressed concern over the conditions in Dry Dock detention center, and the use of torture to extract confessions. The communications also specifically referenced the cases of both AlMalali and AlArab as evidence of unfair treatment at the hands of the Bahraini authorities. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) joins MEP Ward in urging for the immediate release of AlMalali and AlArab, and all prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, and political prisoners currently imprisoned in Bahrain.

Casey O’Hara is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.