25 January 2021 – The European Union should hold Bahrain to their human rights commitments by raising the case of European-Bahraini dual citizens and restore their moratorium on the death penalty, 16 MEPs have urged in an open letter delivered last Friday to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, ahead of his meeting with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister tomorrow.
Read the full letter here.
Danish-Bahraini Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Swedish-Bahraini Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al Muqdad are serving life sentences for peacefully expressing their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association during Bahrain’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Along with other prisoners of conscience like Hassan Mushaima, they have been subjected to torture, mistreatment and systemic denial of medical care.
Since the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 2011, Bahrain’s government has overseen a severe deterioration in the human rights situation in the country, including a dramatic rise in the use of the death penalty. Six individuals have been executed in Bahrain since 2017, five of which were condemned as arbitrary by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, in 2017 and 2019 respectively. 26 death row inmates currently face imminent execution, nearly half of whom were convicted on the basis of confessions allegedly extracted under torture in cases related to political unrest.
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) commented: “Bahrain’s government must not be allowed to benefit from friendly relations with Europe while they continue their violent crackdown on dissent, including through a startling rise in the use of the death penalty. The EU must be firm that human rights abuses will not pass without consequence.”
Abdulla added: “The EU must always stand against human rights violations when dealing with foreign states, particularly when EU nationals are involved. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Sheikh Al Muqdad should not have served a moment in prison and this important intervention by EU lawmakers makes it clear to Bahrain that their immediate and unconditional release is long overdue.”