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Urgent appeal to the Government of Bahrain to stop new executions – UN rights experts

GENEVA (25 January 2017) – Two United Nations human rights experts have appealed today to the Government of Bahrain to spare the lives of Mohammad Ramadan and Hussein Moosa, who are at risk of imminent execution, and to ensure a re-trial of the defendants in compliance with international standards.   

The two convicts, who had their death sentences confirmed in late 2015, were allegedly tortured while in prison, coerced to confess their crime, and not allowed to have proper legal assistance. They were condemned to death for premeditated murder and attempted murder in the first instance by Bahrain’s Fourth High Superior Court. Their appeals were then upheld by the High Appeals Court and the Court of Cassation.

“Under international law, there is an absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, and on torture, Nils Melzer.

“The Bahraini authorities have the duty to investigate all allegations of human rights violations committed during the proceedings, including torture by security forces during interrogations,” they emphasised.

The experts also expressed grave concern at the executions by firing squad on 15 January of Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali Abdulshaheed Yousef al-Singace for a bombing in Manama on 2014, which had killed several people, including three police officers.

According to allegations received by the experts, these executions were carried out following proceedings in contravention to international standards. All three men were reportedly coerced to confess under torture, including methods such as electric shocks and sexual humiliation. They reportedly were also denied access to adequate legal assistance. 

“In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, capital punishment may be imposed only following a trial that complied with the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process,” the UN Special Rapporteurs said. “Any death sentence executed after a trial failing to meet these standards is tantamount to an arbitrary execution.”

One of the convicts, Ali Abdulshaheed Yousef al-Singace was under the age of 18 when he was arrested for his alleged crime. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Bahrain, expressly prohibit the death penalty for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age”, the experts said.

“While the world is moving away from the death penalty, we greatly deplore the Bahraini authorities’ decision to resume executions,” the experts stated, recalling that the three men were the first convicts to be executed in Bahrain since 2010. “We urge Bahrain to establish an official moratorium on death penalty and to consider its complete abolition.”

Ms. Agnes Callamard (France) is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. She has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. Ms. Callamard is the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University and has previously worked with Article 19 and Amnesty International. She has advised multilateral organizations and governments around the world, has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries, and has published extensively on human rights and related fields.

Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2016. Mr. Melzer has previously worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and is currently the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page: Bahrain

For more information and media requests, please contact Johel Dominique (+41 22 928 93 98 / jdominique@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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