8 January 2020 – Bahrain’s High Criminal Court of Appeals has upheld the death sentences of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa. Both men were convicted in an unfair trial that used evidence obtained through their torture.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and Reprieve condemn today’s decision in the strongest terms.

The verdict, which had been scheduled on Christmas Day, was postponed to today after international media exposed Bahrain’s use of holidays to conceal harsh sentences. If the verdict is upheld by the Court of Cassation, Bahrain’s highest court, they will be at imminent risk of execution.

Ramadhan and Moosa were arrested, separately, in early 2014. Both were subjected to torture and denied access to legal counsel during interrogations. In December 2014, they were convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of a security officer, despite a complete lack of physical evidence – the prosecution relied heavily on supposed ‘confessions’ extracted under torture.

On 22 October 2018, the Court of Cassation overturned their verdicts and ordered a case review. This was on the basis of evidence, including medical reports by a doctor from the Public Prosecution documenting torture allegations, which had not been considered by the court in the original trial.  The case was referred back to the High Criminal Appeals Court.

The written judgement has not yet been released, but in sentencing the men to death for a second time, the High Criminal Court of Appeals has almost certainly based its ruling on confessions obtained through torture – as there is no forensic evidence linking the men to the bombing in question.

Investigations carried out by the Special Investigation Unit and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior Ombudsman cast doubt on the veracity and reliability of Ramadhan and Moosa’s claims that they were tortured. These institutions, which have received funding and training from the UK Government, are neither independent nor impartial. An assessment made by the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (IRCT) found that their investigations in these cases were wholly inadequate, and did not comply with international legal standards.

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB, said: “This case exemplifies the corrupt and inhumane justice system in Bahrain. The comparisons to the recent executions of Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali are striking – in both cases two men were arrested, tortured to confess to crimes, and convicted in unfair trials using so-called ‘confessions.’ We can only hope that the outcome of their cases might be different, and that through international pressure – especially from allied partners like the US and UK – they may escape an arbitrary and unlawful execution.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD, said: “Today’s ruling is nothing short of a political assassination and a total mockery of justice.  That these two individuals have had their death sentences confirmed despite compelling evidence that they were tortured lays bare the corruption of Bahrain’s judiciary. This ruling must be condemned by Bahrain’s closest allies and particularly the UK, whose training and support have provided the Bahraini regime with the means to persecute its opponents and whitewash their crimes.”

Harriet McCulloch, Deputy Director of Reprieve said: “Britain’s role in these death sentences is deeply troubling – and totally at odds with the UK Government’s stated policy of opposing capital punishment in all circumstances. British taxpayers are funding Bahraini institutions that whitewash torture, when our Government should instead be doing everything it can to prevent the execution of these two men and get their unfair convictions overturned.”

ADHRB, BIRD, and Reprieve call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately halt all pending executions, and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. We also call on the authorities to open a complete and transparent investigation into the allegations of torture, with a view towards holding the perpetrators accountable.

Additional Notes:

  • There are currently eight individuals facing imminent execution in Bahrain, having exhausted all legal remedies. In addition to Ramadhan and Moosa, two other individuals sentenced to death are still awaiting the Court of Cassation’s final decision, while seven are in exile. At least 12 more individuals are on death row in Jau Prison on non-political charges, some of whom have exhausted all legal remedies.
  • In January 2017, the Bahraini authorities executed torture victims Sami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace and Abbas Al-Samea. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, condemned the executions in both 2017 and 2019 as arbitrary killings.
  • According to the UN Committee Against Torture in 2017, the treatment and previous trial of Ramadhan and Moosa fell short of international standards of fair trial and due process. In its concluding observations on Bahrain, the Committee recommended a retrial.
  • For detailed analysis of the UK Government’s programme of technical and security assistance to Bahrain, and how this has been used to obscure human rights abuses in Bahrain, see Reprieve and BIRD’s 2018 report: Training Torturers.