Bahrain imposes death penalty in sham trials on tortured defendants
A 61-page report released by Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy found that defendants were denied access to evidence, legal counsel, and the possibility of cross-examining “secret" sources. In a decade, the use of capital punishment has increased by 600 per cent.
Manama (AsiaNews) – Bahraini courts have conducted "sham trials" in recent years, with convictions achieved through coercion, torture, and the violation of human rights.
In a recent case, eight men were sentenced to death, this according to a joint report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
Early next month, the Gulf country will host a conference on interfaith dialogue, which Pope Francis will attend. But according to the 61-page report, titled The Court is satisfied with the Confession': Bahrain death sentences follow torture, Sham Trials, eight men were convicted on the basis of confessions obtained through physical and psychological violence.
“The many human rights violations that underlie these death sentences reflect not a justice system but a pattern of injustice,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW, in a statement.
In some cases the defendants were denied access to the evidence used during the trial, and, in one case, a defendant was not allowed to cross-examine “secret sources” used against him. What is more, none of them had the benefit of counsel during their interrogations.
“It is particularly appalling to sentence people to death amid torture allegations and after manifestly unfair trials,” lamented Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, an HRW consultant and primary author of the report.
For this reason, he urges Bahrani authorities to “commute all death sentences immediately and … reinstate the de facto moratorium on executions”.
The past year saw death sentences “dramatically” rise in Bahrain, with 51 people ordered executed compared to seven in the previous decade, i.e. since anti-government protests broke out in 2011, during the Arab Spring. That is 600 per cent increase.
The report found that 88 per cent of men executed in Bahrain since 2011 were convicted on “terror” charges, and 100 per cent of them alleged torture.
“Bahraini officials routinely proclaim that the government respects fundamental human rights, but in case after case, courts relied on coerced confessions,” Page said.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is ruled by the Al-Khalifa, a Sunni dynasty, but Shias represent 60 to 70 per cent of the population and have called for constitutional changes, as well as social and economic rights.
In 2011 during the Arab Spring, riots broke out in the country, a US and Saudi ally. The unrest was eventually quelled with Saudi military support.