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BAHRAIN’S highest court upheld death sentences against two tortured pro-democracy protesters today after the British government refused to intervene in their cases.
Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa, who were both tortured by security services and convicted on the basis of forced “confessions,” could now be executed at any time, warns human rights organisation Reprieve.
Director Maya Foa said that Britain must “loudly and publicly intervene” by calling for the sentences to be commuted.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, branded the court’s ruling “yet another dark stain in the struggle for human rights in Bahrain.”
He added: “This horrendous injustice could not have happened without the tacit acceptance of Bahrain’s Western allies.”
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen called on the British government to “denounce this court decision in the strongest possible terms” as there was “clear evidence of brutal torture” to force “confessions.”
The Court of Cassation’s verdict was announced by the Bahraini Public Prosecutor’s Office on Instagram and Twitter.
Last week, British ministers repeatedly declined to make public representations to Bahrain, a former British protectorate with which it has a close relationship.
Labour is now calling on Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to urgently address the situation in the Commons on Tuesday.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “In a case where the UK is clearly able to exert influence, the government must not remain silent.
“The torture of Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa was horrific and clear evidence presented that their confessions [were] coerced.
“The UK government cannot claim to be standing up for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong but fail to apply the same principles to Bahrain.
“Last week, ministers acknowledged the ‘close and important’ relationship between the UK and Bahrain. The Foreign Secretary must come to the House of Commons [on Tuesday] and assure MPs that we will not be bystanders when we have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to defending human rights.”
Last week, ministers insisted that they would only intervene after the court had made a decision.
This was despite demands from thousands of members of the public, MPs and peers of all parties for action before the court’s likely decision to uphold the death sentences was announced.
On Thursday, Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Kim Johnson urged the government to make “effective representations” in the cases before the court published its verdict.
Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly replied: “I assure her that if the death penalties are upheld through the Court of Cassation process, the UK will publicly and loudly remind Bahrain of our opposition to the death penalty, and we will continue to seek to have it set aside.”
Since 2012, Britain has provided £6.5 million of technical assistance to Bahrain, including training Bahrain’s Prisons Ombudsman and its Special Investigations Unit (SIU), two institutions which failed to properly investigate the torture of Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa.
The two men were granted a case review and their original death sentences were overturned after they made credible claims that they had been tortured.
But in January, the high court reimposed their death sentences, stating that the SIU investigation had shown that Mr Moosa’s confession, implicating Mr Ramadhan, had not been obtained through torture and could be relied upon.
An assessment by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims concluded that the SIU investigation “fails to meet the minimum professional standards and minimum international legal standards to which the kingdom of Bahrain is subject.”
It raised additional concerns that the SIU is neither independent nor impartial and found that the January court judgement was “critically flawed.”
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