23 July 2020: More than 53 MEPs signed a letter addressed to the King of Bahrain today, headed by Mr Urtasun MEP, condemning Bahrain’s Court of Cassation’s decision to uphold the death sentences of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa. Both have faced torture and abuse of physical and psychological kind, and have been convicted in unfair trials despite clear evidence demonstrating that torture, abuse, and other ill-treatment influenced their confessions. They have both exhausted legal remedies and are at risk of imminent execution, pending ratification by Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Last week, Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadhan sought their final appeal against their death sentences for alleged crimes of terrorism and killing a police officer. The verdict comes off the back of an international pressure campaign demanding their release and overturning of their convictions, seeing international watchdogs and human rights organisations declaring the case as inadmissible under the mounting evidence of torture, coercion and physical and psychological abuse endured by both men.
Their trials have been marred with due process rights issues, having been subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention. In addition they were forcefully coerced into signing prepared confessions without disclosing their contents. Furthermore, they lacked any effective legal representation at court and they were denied the presence of their lawyers during interrogations and meetings with the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Controversially, the decision to uphold their sentences came as a result of an investigation carried out by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), charged with investigating any allegations of abuse, torture or ill-treatment committed by national security forces. The SIU, alongside other human rights oversight agencies in Bahrain, has been accused of being ineffective and lacking sufficient independence to effectively seek justice against public officials. Their handling of the investigation into Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadhan’s allegations of torture has been denounced as “seriously flawed” by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCTV). This oversight body continues to receive assistance and funding from the British Government to this day.
The media attention gathered by these cases has resulted in multiple campaigns abroad calling for the annullation of their sentences. In the UK, the British Parliament put forth questions concerning Downing Street’s close relationship with Bahrain. MP Sir Peter Bottomley demanded the government to “publicly raise” these cases with Manama, and others decried the government’s willingness to whitewash these human rights violations perpetrated by Bahraini authorities. MP Tom Tugendhat called upon the UK Foreign Office to write to the King of Bahrain and seek compassion for both men, and the other 12 individuals who face imminent execution mainly for political motives.
In addition, from Brussels, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Maria Arena MEP, and the Chair of the Parliamentary Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula, Hannah Neumann MEP, issued a joint statement, declaring their “grave concern over the failures of the courts in Bahrain to exclude torture evidence” in their case.
Lastly, US Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, also denounced the trials of Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadhan, calling the situation “a travesty that these two men are still imprisoned and face execution.”
Find the full text of the letter here.