On 18 June 2019, Roger Nordmann, President of the Social Democratic Group to the Swiss Parliament, has sent a letter to the King of Bahrain regarding the death sentences upheld against Ahmed AlMalali and Ali AlArab.
In his letter, the President urges on behalf of his political group a moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards abolition. Additionally, he calls on the king to pardon and release both men, who recently had their death sentences upheld by Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 6 May 2019. AlMalali and AlArab now face imminent execution in Bahrain after being sentenced in an unfair mass trial, bringing the total number of individuals at imminent risk of execution in the kingdom up to eight.
In 2017, the Bahraini coastguard has arrested Ahmed AlMalali at sea without presenting a warrant. The arrest was violent and AlMalali was shot twice in the hand and suffered a broken leg. Despite these wounds, the bullets were not removed until 23 days later and his leg was only treated with a splint. Following his arrest, AlMalali was held incommunicado and subjected to torture by Bahraini authorities. AlMalali’s torture included beatings, exposure to cold, forced standing, and electrocution. Ultimately, he was charged with possessing illegal firearms, training in the use of firearms, and membership in a terrorist cell, and in 2018, AlMalali was sentenced to death in a mass trial.
Ali AlArab was arrested at the home of an acquaintance by Bahraini Ministry of Interior (MOI) personnel in 2017. AlArab was held for a period of time at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and then transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he was repeatedly tortured – including frequent beatings, electrocution, and removal of toenails. As a result, AlArab suffered permanent hearing loss, nerve damage, and had difficulty standing. Authorities have also forced AlArab to sign a confession while blindfolded. As a result of this confession, AlArab was charged with killing a security officer on 29 January 2017, firing on and wounding members of a security patrol on 14 January 2017, and the illegal possession of firearms. He was finally sentenced to death in 2018 in a mass trial.
Currently, what stands between these men and their executions is the ratification from Bahrain’s king, placing them at imminent risk. A number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have cited the cases of Ahmed AlMalali and Ali AlArab, along with the six other individuals sentenced to die pending the king’s approval, as requiring “urgent action.”
In his letter, President Nordmann called on Bahrain to immediately place a moratorium on the death penalty. In addition, he asked that Bahrain “not to ratify their death sentences and ensure they are not executed”. Furthermore, President Nordmann called on the Kingdom of Bahrain to order a retrial “that fully complies with international fair trial standards and excludes evidence obtained under torture.” Nordmann echoed a recent letter sent by five UN human rights experts on 21 May 2019 appealing the Bahraini government to “halt imminent executions” of the two young men and raising “serious concern that they were coerced into making confession through torture and did not receive fair trial.” The communications also specifically referenced the cases of both AlMalali and AlArab as evidence of unfair treatment at the hands of the Bahraini authorities.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), welcomes the letter sent by President Nordmann. We welcome the urgency to the commutation of AlMalali and AlArab’s sentence and the placement of a moratorium.