UPDATED: NGOs Condemn Bahraini Court’s Decision to Uphold the Death Sentences of Two Torture Victims

*** On Saturday 27 July 2019, the Government of Bahrain executed 25-year-old Ali AlArab and 24-year-old Ahmed AlMalali, along with a third individual. Read ADHRB’s statement on the executions here.

6 May 2019 – Today, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation rejected the final appeal of Ali AlArab and Ahmed AlMalali, two men sentenced to death for allegedly committing terrorist crimes. With this ruling, their cases go to the King, who can either ratify or reject their sentences. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) are deeply concerned over the court’s decision, which places the men at imminent risk of execution. Both Ali and Ahmed were previously the subjects of United Nations Special Procedure communications, of UA BHR 7/2017 and UA BHR 6/2018 respectively. We urge the king to reject AlArab and AlMalali’s sentences and for the authorities to order their immediate  retrial under international standards, and an investigation into allegations of torture.

Ali AlArab was 24 years old when he was detained on 9 February 2017 when Ministry of Interior (MoI) security agents arrested him at the home of an acquaintance, without presenting a warrant. They held him at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) until 7 March. During this time the officials coerced him into signing a confession while blindfolded. They transferred Ali to Dry Dock Detention Center on 7 March. He arrived there bearing clear signs of torture. He was sentenced to death in a mass trial on 31 January 2018 for allegedly assisting in the 1 January 2017 escape from Jau Prison. He was also charged with killing a security officer on 29 January 2017. As part of his sentence, he was stripped of his citizenship, which was later reinstated.

Ahmed AlMalali was 23 years old when he was arrested on 9 February 2017 by the MoI’s Coast Guard, in a joint operation with the CID, the Special Security Force Command, and the National Security Agency. After his arrest, he was held incommunicado for a month, at which time officers tortured Ahmed, including by electric shock. He was charged with possessing arms, training in the use of arms, and membership in a terror cell and on 31 January 2018 he was sentenced to death and denationalized in a mass trial, though his nationality was later reinstated.

With the Court of Cassation’s upholding of Ali and Ahmed’s sentences, their cases now go before the King, who can ratify or reject their death sentences. Their cases bear similarities to the most recent executions in Bahrain in January 2017. The men who were executed in 2017 were convicted of killing a police officer – the same crime as Ali and Ahmed. Additionally, on 28 April 2019, a Twitter account connected with the Bahraini security forces, particularly the National Security Agency tweeted that the Court of Cassation would uphold the death sentences and send them directly to the king for ratification. At the time of the tweet, the legal representatives of Ali and Ahmed had not been informed of the Cassation court date. This is another connection to this case and the 2017 executions, as this same account tweeted on 14 January 2017 that the King would endorse the death sentences of the three men who were ultimately executed.

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB: “The Court of Cassation’s decision is a travesty, as both Ali and Ahmed were convicted and sentenced based on confessions they gave under torture. With this decision, they join six others on death row, all of whom were also sentenced under fundamentally unfair conditions and after torture by security forces. The international community must take action and show Bahrain that its systematic use of torture and unfair trials which are contrary to international standards, are unacceptable.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD: “This case must be taken up most seriously, in particular because security forces subjected the two men to appalling torture before convicting them in unfair trials. Now that the executions are imminent, it is critical that the international community step up and take action before it’s too late. More than that, it is very saddening for the families to receive such news on the first day of Ramadan.”

With the decision by the Court of Cassation to uphold Ali and Ahmed’s sentences, there are now eight men on death row and at imminent risk of execution. ADHRB, BIRD, and ECDHR strongly condemn this decision, and we call on the king to reject their death sentences and to order their immediate release and the voiding of their charges, in light of the patently unfair trial proceedings. We further call on the authorities to end the culture of impunity in Bahrain, by opening an investigation into the allegations of torture and ill treatment, and ultimately holding the perpetrators responsible.