The Belgian Senate Passes a Resolution on Bahrain addressing various human rights violations

20 February 2020 – Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) welcomes the Belgian Senate’s adoption of resolution 7-142/2 on the human rights situation in Bahrain. The resolution, proposed by Senator Orry Van de Wauwer, specifically addresses the use of the death penalty and violations to freedom of expression and assosciation.

The resolution, passed on the 9th anniversary of Bahrain’s popular uprising, acknowledges that the Bahraini government continues, and even intensified, its “crackdown and campaign of repression and persecution against political and human rights activists”, and strongly condemns the use of the death penalty, calling on the Belgian government to urge Bahrain to “re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty” and to “retry” the cases of torture victims on death row, Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Ali Moosa.

The three page resolution stresses the serious human rights violations associated with carrying out executions under the death penalty, which is considered the “most cruel, inhumane and degrading” form of punishment, and recognises the “extreme psychological suffering” that the eight people at imminent risk of execution in Bahrain currently endure.

The senate also made reference to the use of forced confessions” in legal proceedings, which are obtained through “torture and intimidation”. Such was the case for Ramadhan and Moosa. Citing international law, specifically Bahrain’s obligations in accordance with Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the resolution urges Bahrain to retry all those currently sentenced to death and to eventually abolish the death penalty as it is “inhumane” and “unacceptable” for States who are committed to respecting human rights.

 The resolution further emphasises the universal right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, noting that Bahrain is a signatory to multiple legally binding conventions under which this right is enshrined, including its own Constitution. However, the resolution states that Bahrain “does not respect these rights” that are “indispensable” in a democratic society. Rather, the tools used by the Bahraini government, such as citizenship revocation, ban on political opposition parties and targeting of political activists, as a means of political repression are explicitly recognised.

Accordingly, the resolution calls on the Belgian government to urge the Bahraini authorities for the “immediate and unconditional release” of those detained because of “their political opinion or membership to a political party or political movement”.

Senator Orry Van de Wauwer commented: “On 14 February 2011, the Arab Spring demonstrations in Bahrain began by demanding more political freedom for the people of Bahrain and the improvement in authorities’ respect human rights. The situation has since worsened. I am, therefore, delighted that the Belgian Senate adopted my resolution on human rights violations in Bahrain, in order to put international pressure on the regime so that it  respect fundamental rights, including a fair trial for Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Ali Moosa, and a ban on the death penalty. We did this on 14 February, on the 9th anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring in Bahrain. A symbolic day, but far more than a symbolic action”.

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) commented: “The resolution proposed by Senator Orry Van de Wauwer is greatly significant as it explicitly calls for the retrial of torture victims on death row – Mohammed Ramdhan and Hussain Moosa – and acknowledges that torture is a tool used by the regime to coerce confeessions later used in trial. The resolution further states as matter of fact that Bahrain does not respect the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Last summer, Bahraini authorities executed torture victims Ali Al-Arab and Ahmed Al-Malali during the UK, US and EU legislative recess, but now eyes are on Bahrain to watch how they proceed with Ramadhan and Moosa’s case”.

Read the full resolution here