On 16 April 2019, the High Criminal Court of Bahrain, chaired by judge Bader Abulatif Al Abdullah, has convicted 139 individuals of terrorism-related charges in an unfair mass trial. The prison sentences ranged from three years to life imprisonment. Of them, 138 have been stripped of their citizenship and 69 have been sentenced to life imprisonment, accused of creating a terrorist group called “Bahraini Hezbollah.”
It seems that all the defendants are members of the Shia majority, whereas 58 of them have been tried in absentia. As a result, over 900 people have been stripped of their citizenship since 2012. Given the size of Bahrain’s population, this number is astonishing. Furthermore, with more than 4000 detainees, Bahrain is the highest per capita jailer in the Middle East and North Africa region. The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) strongly condemns this trial which has not respected international fair trial standards. ECDHR opposes the growing use of terrorism-related charges as a tool to crush dissent and silence any form of opposition.
As far as death penalty is concerned, no executions have been performed in 2018 in Bahrain. The country has maintained a de facto moratorium from 2011 to 2017. On 15 January 2017, Ali Al-Singace, 21, Abbas Al-Samea, 27, and Sami Mushaima, 42, were unlawfully executed. They were arrested and convicted of planning a bombing which killed police officers in 2014. The execution occurred after that the victims were tortured to extract a false confession. They were the first people executed in Bahrain since July 2010 and the first Bahrainis executed since March 1996.
According to our sources, 37 individuals have been sentenced to death since 2014. They are all men. Currently, at least 20 Bahrainis are reportedly on death row, all of them sentenced for political cases, 7 individuals are at imminent risk of execution, although commutations and pardons of death sentences have been recorded in Bahrain. ECDHR has acknowledged that the issuance of death sentences has drastically increased in the last two years. Many of these cases involve torture and coerced confessions.
ECDHR calls upon the government of Bahrain to reinstate the moratorium on death penalty and to implement reforms towards its total abolition. We call upon the European Union and its institutions to keep on monitoring this situation and put pressure on the Kingdom.