Bahrain: Human rights on the brink of crisis

Bahraini authorities must immediately commute the death sentences of two men at imminent risk of execution, Amnesty International said today, and warned that the harsh response to protests against three executions carried out by firing squad on 15 January risks plunging the country into a human rights crisis.
Amnesty International is urging Bahrain’s authorities to immediately commute the death sentences of Mohamad Ramadhan and Husain Ali’ Moosa, who were sentenced to death in December 2014 following a bombing in the village of al-Deir that killed a police officer in February of that year. Neither of the men had access to a lawyer during their interrogations. Mohamed Ramadhan said he had been detained incommunicado, beaten and given electric shocks by interrogators at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in a failed attempt to force a confession from him. Hussain ‘Ali Moosa said his “confession” implicating Mohamed Ramadhan was extracted after he was suspended by his limbs from the ceiling and beaten repeatedly for several days. The Bahraini Public Prosecutor dismissed the torture allegations without ordering an investigation and Hussain Ali Moosa’s “confession” was used to convict the two men.
“As well as commuting these death sentences, the authorities in Bahrain must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment and has no place in a country that claims to be committed to human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional office. 
Authorities in Bahrain must also take immediate steps to pull the country back from the brink of a human rights crisis, after the execution of three men by firing squad on 15 January sparked protests. The authorities have responded with excessive force and increased arbitrary restrictions on the media, Amnesty International said today. The organization also warned that two other men facing the death penalty, Mohamed Ramadhan ‘Issa ‘Ali Hussain and Hussain ‘Ali Moosa Hussain Mohamed, are now at imminent risk of execution.
“Bahrain is at boiling point. The hundreds of Bahrainis who have taken to the streets to protest against these shocking executions, which were carried out amid allegations of torture and after unfair trials, have been met with excessive use of force by security forces, as well as an escalation in the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression,” said Lynn Maalouf.
“We are urging the Bahraini authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and to instruct the security forces to refrain from using excessive force against protestors. Arbitrary and abusive force by police and draconian measures against free expression will only exacerbate an already dangerous deterioration of the human rights situation.”
Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest against the 15 January executions of Ali Abdulshaheed al-Sankis, Sami Mirza Mshaima’ and Abbas Jamil Taher Mhammad al-Samea, who were convicted following an unfair trial in relation to the March 2014 killing of three policemen.
Eyewitnesses in Bahrain told Amnesty International that while some of the protests have been peaceful, others turned violent. The largest protests erupted in the village of Sanabis, the hometown of the three men who were executed. These were followed by big protests in the villages of Duraz, Sitra and al-Daih, which the security forces responded to with tear gas and shotguns firing birdshot. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that they saw security officers in Sanabis fire tear gas, aiming directly at protesters and causing injuries. In Duraz, numerous protesters were injured by security forces’ use of birdshot.
One eyewitness told Amnesty International that officers threatened protesters they would be “executed like the three men”. At least two police officers and scores of demonstrators were also injured in the clashes, and a municipal building was set alight in Shamalia, south of the capital Manama.
Munir Mshaima, the brother of Sami Mshaima, one of the three men executed, was arrested in front of the al-Mahouz cemetery, immediately after his brother’s funeral and interrogated for “insulting the King” during the proceedings. He was released the following day.
On 16 January the Ministry of Information issued an order suspending the online edition of Al-Wasat, an independent newspaper, due to its “repeated broadcastings inciting to discord in society and the spirit of sedition, disruption of national unity that affect public peace.”
Bahrain’s authorities intensified their crackdown on freedom of expression and association in 2016. Prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned, and the main opposition party Al Wefaq was dissolved, with its Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman given a nine-year prison sentence and its spiritual leader Sheikh Issa Qassem’s nationality arbitrarily revoked.
On 9 January Bahrain’s Court of Cassation in Bahrain upheld death sentences for Ali Abdulshaheed al-Sankis, Sami Mirza Mshaima’ and Abbas Jamil Taher Mhammad al-Samea. It also upheld life sentences against seven others and the revocation of the nationality of eight of them. All 10 men were convicted following an unfair trial in relation to the March 2014 killing of three policemen.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life.
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Two Bahraini men at imminent risk of execution