On the 14th of February, the Belgian Senate adopted resolution 7-142/2, tabled by Senator Orry Van de Wauver (CD&V), regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain.
The resolution recognised that the Bahraini government has pursued and intensified its “crackdown and campaign of repression and persecution against political and human rights activists”. The resolution also called on the Belgian government to urge its Bahraini counterpart to “re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards the abolition of the capital punishment”.
In that regard, the resolution made reference to the use of “forced confessions” in legal proceedings, – confessions obtained through “torture and intimidation”. Citing international law and 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, specifically the cases of torture victims on death row, Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Ali Moosa.
Moreover, the resolution 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”, “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.
Finally, 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 February 14 2011, the Arabic Spring demonstrations started in Bahrain to demand more political freedom for the people from Bahrain and more respect for human rights by the authorities. The situation has worsened ever since. Therefore I am delighted that the Belgian Senate adopted my resolution on human rights violations in Bahrain, to put international pressure on the regime to respect the fundamental rights, including a fair trial for Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Ali Moosa and a ban on the death penalty. We did this on February 14, on the 9th birthday of the start of the Arabic Spring in Bahrain. A symbolic day, but far more than a symbolic action”.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes this important initiative by Senator Van de Wauwer, and joins the Belgian government in calling for a retrial of Mr Ramadhan and Moosa as well as an end to human rights abuses.