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BAHRAIN’s dictator was urged today to commute the death sentences of two men expected to be executed tomorrow after they were convicted in a trial that relied on forced confessions.
Ali al-Arab and Ahmad al-Malali were arrested on February 9 2017 and sentenced to death on January 31 last year.
Mr Arab’s family told human rights organisations that during his interrogation, investigators beat and electrocuted him and pulled out his toenails. He was also forced to sign a “confession” while blindfolded.
Mr Malali was struck by at least two bullets, but United Nations human rights experts found that authorities had not removed them from his body until 23 days later. He was held incommunicado for a month before being forced to sign a false confession. He was then sentenced in absentia.
Thirteen human rights charities — including Amnesty International, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) and Reprieve — wrote to Western-backed King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on May 30 reminding him of the UN’s “serious concerns that [al-Arab and al-Malali] were coerced into making confessions through torture and did not receive a fair trial.”
“The lives of these two young men are in your hands,” the letter says.
“We urge you to order a retrial that fully complies with international fair trial standards and excludes evidence obtained under torture, and to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the men’s claims of torture.
“We acknowledge the authorities’ duty to prevent crime and bring those responsible to justice, but emphasise that this should always be done in accordance with Bahrain’s national and international human rights obligations.”
The men’s families received a phone called from prison officers today asking them to attend “a special visit” this afternoon.
“The last time that family members of death-row inmates were notified of a similar visit, in January 2017,” Bird warned today, “the three individuals concerned were executed a few hours later.
Bird director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said: “Ali and Ahmed were brutally tortured and forced to sign false confessions, yet their executions now seem inevitable.
“It appears that the Bahrain government planned this meticulously, timing the executions to coincide with US, EU and UK legislative recesses in order to avoid international scrutiny.
“They must not be able to get away with this. The international community must do all it can to prevent these executions going ahead.”
A spokesperson from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the Star: "The UK Government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, especially for crimes other than the most serious and for juveniles.
"This is in line with the minimum standards set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty of 2008 and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights."
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