Bahrain: the Council of Representatives approved new restrictive amendments to death penalty

On 9 April 2019, the Council of Representatives chaired by Speaker Fawzia Zainal voted in favour of the amendments to the 1976 Penal Code which introduce tougher punishments for terrorist acts. Approved by a narrow majority, 21 votes out of 40, these amendments punish who manufactures explosives and Molotov cocktails with up to ten years in prison and a fine of BD500-1000. Life imprisonment is applied “if using the Molotov cocktails caused a permanent impairment and to death penalty or life in prison if it caused the death of a citizen.” The amendments have been referred to the Shura Council for review.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) is concerned by this decision. The Council of Representative continues to legitimise death penalty. By fostering it, brutality and crackdown on political dissidents and civil society will not cease but increase throughout the country.

In Bahrain, no executions have been performed in 2018. Bahrain 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. As of February 2019, 19 individuals are on death row in Bahrain and 7 individuals are at imminent risk of execution, although commutations and pardons of death sentences have been recorded in Bahrain.

The ECDHR renews his concern over the persistent use of death penalty as a political tool to crush dissent. We condemn this deplorable practice. We call the government of Bahrain to immediately abolish death penalty, cognisant of the fact that this move would represent a breakthrough towards the abolition in the entire Gulf region.

 

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