Bahrain: Concern about the Increased Application of Death Penalty in Light of Continuing to Ignore Torture Allegations
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the Bahraini government continuing to issue death penalty sentences in light of the deteriorating political and human rights situation since February 2011. Since then, Bahrain courts have issued 32 death penalty sentences against 32 detainees arrested on political grounds. Most of them reported that they were exposed to physical and psychological torture to force them to confess. Three of the convicts were executed in January 2017 by firing squad after the murder of a policeman.
Zuhair Ibrahim Jassem, 38, will attend trial on Thursday, November 29, 2018. His family and human rights activists in Bahrain fear that he will be sentenced to death penalty, the most extreme sentence given in similar cases. Zuhair faces charges of joining a terrorist cell operating in Bahrain against police officers, training in the use of weapons, operations against police officers and killing of a policeman.
In details, Zuhair’s family informed the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that civilian forces had stormed their house in the Sutra area on November 2, 2017. They arrested Zuhair after searching the house and confiscated Zuhair's personal belongings without giving the family any information or explanation about the reasons for the arrest or search. Mrs. Hanin Ali, 35, Zuhair’s wife, said that she was beaten by a member of the authorities who broke into their house after her husband was arrested. Moreover, she was threatened with rape. He pointed the gun at her head while interrogating her in an isolated room to give information about her husband Zuhair before his family will be summoned to the criminal investigation unit.
Zuhair was in the Criminal Investigation Building for about 55 days before being transferred to the Dry Dock Prison. Zuhair was brought to his family after severe torture caused by the interrogators who investigated him by stripping him of all his clothes and severely electrocuting and beating him. The interrogators also threatened to kill his family, if he did not confess about the charges against him. Therefore, Zuhair signed the papers of confession about the above-mentioned charges after his arrest on 13 November, as announced by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior, which defamed him and other defendants on Bahrain TV Al-Wasi, on 15 November 2017.
On February 20, 2018, the Public Prosecution ordered that the case was referred to the Grand Criminal Court. Zuhair’s family says that he spoke to the judge about the torture he was subjected to, but the judge did not care. His family also filed a complaint about his torture at the Special Investigation Unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office.
The legal advisor of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ibrahim Sarhan, said that death sentences are issued in trials that do not have fair trial guarantees. Although there are allegations of victims being tortured and brought before judges, but their legal rights weren’t observed. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the continued use of this aborted penalty in Bahrain is a violation of international conventions and treaties, especially Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right of living, freedom and self-safety”.
Based on this, the BCHR calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union, and other allies and international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:
- The release Zuhair Jassem, the suspension of his trial and the dropping of all confessions extracted from him under torture.
- Stop using the death penalty.
- Abolish previously issued death sentences and investigate allegations of torture of defendants.
- Accountability of elements of the security services who prove their involvement in the commission of acts of torture no matter how high their positions are.