BHRC calls for clemency for two men on death row in Bahrain

The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has submitted an official petition for clemency to the Bahraini Government on behalf of Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa, two men facing imminent execution in Bahrain. Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa were convicted of carrying out a 2014 bombing in Bahrain; both men insist that police tortured them into making false confessions to a crime they did not commit.

BHRC’s petition calls for clemency to be shown in the cases of both men and for judicial processes to be reopened on the grounds that the trials of Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa failed to comply with fair trial standards, particularly to observe ‘super due process’ as required in capital cases by international law. In these circumstances, the convictions should not remain.

The Fourth High Criminal Court relied solely upon confessions to convict these men, apparently satisfied with reports written by a Bahraini government doctor stating that neither man had been tortured. However, Dr Brock Chisholm, a UK expert in examination of torture victims reviewed these reports, declared them non-compliant with international standards, and advised that they be “completely disregarded.” The Bahraini government’s refusal to investigate Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa’s torture allegations during their trial accordingly constitutes a serious breach of international law.

In addition to its clemency petition, BHRC continues to be concerned about the lack of investigation into the torture allegations that are the basis of the convictions. Following Mr Ramadhan’s arrest in February 2014, detailed complaints regarding his torture and forced confession were submitted to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman acknowledged receiving these complaints initially, but refused to investigate them. Two years passed during which time Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa were convicted. This conduct constitutes a serious breach of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“ CAT”), which requires all states to initiate a “prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed.”

Following intense public pressure from human rights groups such as Reprieve, in May 2016 the Ombudsman finally agreed to open an investigation into Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa’s allegations of torture and forced confessions. However, in the fifteen months since, the Ombudsman has disclosed no information about its findings, and has indicated that it has referred that case on to the Special Investigation Unit, a UK-trained body, for further investigation. Despite claiming to have opened investigations, neither the Ombudsman nor the SIU have communicated any findings to Mr Ramadhan, Mr Moosa, their lawyers or their families. This too constitutes a serious breach of international law.

In light of the training provided to Bahraini institutions by the UK government, BHRC urges the UK government to call publicly on Bahrain’s King to exercise clemency in the cases of Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa and to properly investigate accusations of torture by Bahraini officials.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales said:

“The UK government has carried out international human rights law training of the Special Investigation Unit in Bahrain. In these circumstances, it must have an enhanced duty to ensure the implementation of international human rights law. Words need to be reflected in action. There must be a transparent investigation of this evidence of torture. Also, at minimum, the UK government should join the Bar Human Rights Committee’s call for clemency to be applied to the death penalty sentences.”

You can read the Clemency petition here.

You can read the Reuters article on our intervention here.

You can read the Doughty Street statement here.