Highest court upholds death sentences

Death Penalty
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Security forces arrested Hussain Ali Moosa, a hotel employee, on 21 February 2014. Mohamed Ramadhan was arrested on 18 February 2014 at the Bahrain International Airport, where he worked as a member of the security forces. Following their arrests, the two men were taken to the Criminal Investigations Department where they say they were tortured during interrogations. Mohamed Ramadhan refused to sign a “confession”, but Hussain Ali Moosa said he was coerced to confess to killing a policeman and incriminate Mohamed Ramadhan after being suspended by the limbs and beaten for several days. His “confession” was later used as the main evidence in the trial to convict both men They are held in Jaw prison in south Manama, Bahrain’s capital.

On 29 December 2014, a criminal court sentenced Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa to death for the killing of a policeman, who died in a bomb explosion in al-Deir, a village northeast of Manama, on 14 February 2014. The High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld their conviction and death sentences on 30 March 2015 and the Court of Cassation confirmed them on 16 November 2015. 

Despite receiving complaints from Mohamed Ramadhan’s wife and a US-based NGO in 2014, the Ombudsman’s office failed to investigate the allegations of torture for two years. In April 2016, the Ombudsman incorrectly informed the UK government that it had received “no allegations of mistreatment or torture” in relation to Mohamed Ramadhan. Following international pressure, the Ombudsman told the UK government in July 2016 that it had committed to undertake “a full, independent investigation”, subsequently interviewing Mohamed Ramadhan’s wife and lawyer.

On 28 March 2018, the Public Prosecutor confirmed having received a memorandum on the Special Investigation Unit ’s (SIU’s) investigations into Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa’s torture complaints. Based on the SIU’s recommendations, the cases were referred to the Minister of Justice, who in early May 2018 sent an application to the Court of Cassation for re-consideration of the verdicts. The SIU claimed to have uncovered medical reports by doctors of the Ministry of Interior supporting both men's claims of torture in detention. These reports had not been made available during their first trial. On 22 October 2018, the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentences imposed on the two men on the basis of this new evidence and ordered the High Criminal Court of Appeal to re-examine the cases under a new panel of judges. 

On 25 December 2019, Jaw prison authorities told Hussain Ali Moosa and Mohamed Ramadhan to ready themselves to appear that day before the High Criminal Court of Appeal so as to hear the verdict in their case. Shortly after, the two men were told that they would no longer be taken to court but were not provided with any reason. In court, in the presence of representatives of the UK, France and Germany, the judge postponed issuing his decision given the defendants’ absence. On 8 January 2020, the conviction and death sentences of the two men were upheld again.

Bahrain is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which recognizes the right to life and the right to a fair trial, which includes the right not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt. The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that "the imposition of a sentence of death upon conclusion of a trial in which the provisions of the [International] Covenant [on Civil and Political Rights] have not been respected constitutes a violation of article 6 of the Covenant” [right to life]. In its 2012 report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has reiterated that “it is arbitrary to impose the death penalty where the proceedings do not adhere to the highest standards of fair trial. Under international law, statements elicited as a result of torture or other forms of coercion must be excluded as evidence in criminal proceedings, except those brought against suspected perpetrators of such abuse (as evidence that the statement was made).

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