Bahrain: Authorities execute two torture survivors

27.07.19

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the execution of two torture survivors who were imprisoned in Bahrain. They have been executed early in the morning on 27 July 2019, which reinforces the fear that this practice will become more standard in the country, where reports of torture are routine and the judicial process is deeply flawed.

The families of Ahmed Al-Malali (pictured on the left), 24 years old, and Ali Al-Arab (pictured on the right), 25 years old, were called for exceptional and unscheduled visits on 26 July 2019, while the rest of the prison was placed on complete lockdown. Other prisoners have been banned from making their scheduled calls to their families, in an apparent attempt to restrict information. These procedures are similar to those made in January 2017 when three other prisoners were executed, after a seven-year break in the use of the death penalty. 

In Bahrain there is no independent judiciary and the courts are one of the main tools used to suppress dissent. This puts at risk all those who exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly, including human rights defenders. After the pro-democracy protests in 2011, anyone who participates in the protest movement or expresses criticism of the government online can be targeted by the Bahraini government.

Al-Malali and Al-Arab were arrested on 09 February 2017 and convicted under the internationally-criticised terrorism law on 31 January 2018 in a mass trial of 60 people. The two young men were denied due process according to international standards and forced to sign false confessions which were then used in court to sentence them to death. They were both subjected to severe torture including electric shocks and the removal of their toenails.

GCHR welcomes the statement made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, calling on Bahrain to halt the executions of Al-Malali and Al-Arab, amid torture allegations. She said in a statement on 26 July, “The only thing that distinguishes capital punishment from an arbitrary execution is full respect for the most stringent due process and fair trial guarantees.”

In a statement on 26 July in reaction to the world outrage, Bahrain’s Embassy in Washington DC said, “Just as capital punishment is permitted in the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain allows judges to impose death sentences in cases of serious crimes.”

The executions of the two men and another unnamed man came two days after the US Attorney General announced that the US government has reinstated the use of the death penalty in federal cases for the first time in 16 years (individual states routinely execute prisoners). It is not the first time that the actions of the US have impacted human rights abuses taking place in Bahrain.

GCHR expresses grave concern over the safety of all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and activists who are imprisoned in Bahrain, and calls for an end to the death penalty, especially in countries in which these cases are politicised and built on forced confessions that are taken under severe torture.