Bahrain urged to commute 26 death sentences
Rights groups on Monday appealed to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to commute death sentences of 26 men and take steps to end capital punishment in the Gulf nation.
Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy on Monday said the men, who include those convicted on “terrorism” charges as well as for drugs, can be executed as soon as the king ratifies their sentences.
“King Hamad should commute all outstanding death sentences, starting with defendants convicted on the basis of allegedly coerced confessions and those who have been sentenced to death for other than the most serious crimes,” a joint report read.
Bahrain should also “take steps to formally end the application of the death penalty in all circumstances”, it added.
Bahrain has executed six people since 2017, when it carried out the first execution in seven years.
Some of those were convicted following a 2011 uprising put down with Saudi military support.
After the unrest, Bahrain outlawed opposition parties and arrested activists, sparking international criticism. Hundreds were imprisoned, and some people were stripped of their citizenship.
Manama, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has claimed neighbour Iran trains perpetrators and Shiite armed groups in order to topple the Sunni-led government — an accusation Tehran denies.
“Courts relied on coerced confessions despite defendants’ credible claims of torture and ill-treatment,” said HRWs Michael Page.
“The many human rights violations that underlie these death sentences reflect not a justice system but a pattern of injustice”.
A government spokesperson told AFP that “all inmates in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s detention centres have their legal rights guaranteed”.
The official added that “allegations of mistreatment are fully investigated, and public reports are issued with recommendations based on the findings.”