Human rights groups demand overturn of death sentences of two Bahrainis


Following the unfair trials against two men who say they were tortured to extract confessions, Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said on Monday, Bahrain’s authorities should overturn the death sentences of Ali Moosa and Mohamed Ramadan.

The Court of Cassation, Bahrain’s court of last resort, will issue the final verdict in the coming weeks although this is the second time the Court of Cassation will examine the case of Moosa and Ramadan.

A criminal court on December 29, 2014 sentenced both to death for murdering a policeman, despite their torture allegations. The Court of Cassation confirmed the death sentences in November 2015 but overturned them in October 2018 after a previously undisclosed medical report appeared to corroborate Moosa’s torture allegations.

Despite the new evidence, the High Criminal Court of Appeal reinstated the convictions and death sentences on January 8, 2020.

“Moosa and Ramadan have now twice been sentenced to death despite compelling evidence that their convictions were based on confessions obtained under torture,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This is an indictment of Bahrain’s criminal justice system, and the Court of Cassation should not miss the opportunity to correct this grave miscarriage of justice by overturning their death sentences.”

Bahraini security forces arrested Moosa, 33, on February 21, 2014 and Ramadan, 37, on February 18, 2014, in connection with the murder of a policeman and other terrorism charges. Both men alleged that Central Investigations Directorate (CID) officers tortured and sexually assaulted them. Ramadan refused to sign a confession, but Moosa told BIRD that he was tortured into confessing to the charges against him and incriminated Ramadan.

“They were kicking me on my reproductive organs, and would hit me repeatedly in the same place until I couldn’t speak from the pain,” Moosa told BIRD in a voice message recorded on December 11, 2019. “Someone at the torture site was telling me, ‘We already have the judgment written. Just say that Mohammed Ramadan is the one who gave you the bomb, and we’ll commute your verdict to a life sentence.’ I decided to tell them what they wanted.”

Despite torture complaints from Ramadan’s wife and from the United States-based Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Interior Ministry’s Ombudsman did not investigate the allegations for two years. In April 2016, in response to a question from the United Kingdom Foreign Office, the Ombudsman and the Bahraini embassy in London falsely claimed that the authorities had not received any allegations of mistreatment or torture regarding Ramadan’s case.

After ADHRB produced a receipt for the original complaint from the Ombudsman, and following UK Foreign Office pressure, the Ombudsman said it would conduct a “full, independent investigation into the treatment of both Mohamad Ramadan and Hussein Moosa.”

The Ombudsman on August 7, 2016 referred the case to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which investigates and prosecutes criminal allegations against security or other officials for torture or mistreatment of detainees.

Following a request from London-based rights organization Reprieve, the Copenhagen-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) conducted an independent expert review of the forensic medical reports for both men. The IRCT also described the Special Investigative Unit’s investigation as “cursory” and “superficial.”

Bahrain’s Ombudsman and the investigative unit have repeatedly failed to investigate credible allegations of detainee abuse or to hold accountable officials who participated in and ordered torture during interrogations. The United Nations Committee Against Torture raised concerns that these bodies were neither independent nor effective.

According to BIRD, eight death row inmates in Bahrain are at imminent risk of execution, having exhausted all legal remedies. On July 27, Bahrain executed three men, including Ali al-Arab and Ahmad al-Malali, both convicted of terrorism offenses in a mass trial marred by allegations of torture and serious due process concerns. (Source: HRW)