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Ministers questioned on prisoners sentenced to death in Bahrain

9 July 2020 (updated on 18 September 2020)

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The Foreign Secretary was asked an urgent question on the status of two prisoners in Bahrain who have been given the death penalty following torture.

Two democracy rights activists in Bahrain, Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa, were arrested in 2014 after they questioned the death of a policeman. After both men were tortured for several days, Mr Moosa signed what he says was a false confession, which incriminated Mr Ramadhan.

After pressure from the international community, an internal review later reported that there were signs the men had been tortured. However, Bahraini courts upheld the conviction, and the country's Court of Cassation is expected to confirm the death penalty.

Sir Peter Bottomley MP asked the Foreign Secretary for a statement on whether he will "use the UK’s constructive dialogue" with Bahrain to publicly raise the cases of these men.

James Cleverly: a "close and important relationship"

Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly,  told the House that the UK and Bahrain have a "close and important relationship" with an "ongoing, open and genuine dialogue". Mr Cleverly said that this dynamic allowed the UK to raise human rights concerns, and that the cases of Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadhan had been, and would continue to be, raised in conversations with officials in Bahrain.

The Minister stated that British embassy Manama officials were present at the retrial for the men in January, where they were convicted of terrorist sentences and once again given the death sentence. He said that, at the time, the former Minister for the Middle East and North Africa had publicly noted the UK's "deep concern", and the Government's view had not changed. He emphasised that the cases were still being "actively monitored".

Mr Cleverly also reiterated the UK's opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and all countries that use it. He said that the Government of Bahrain are "fully aware" of this.

The Minister concluded:

"I can assure the House that our efforts to raise these cases, and also the broader issues of the use of capital punishment, with the Bahraini authorities will continue."

Sir Peter Bottomley: "I wish these men well"

Responding to the Minister, Sir Peter Bottomley MP said that his first constituency case as an MP was aiding somebody who had been wrongfully convicted, and that he is now working on two long-term cases in the US.

Sir Peter acknowledged that Bahrain is important to the UK "politically, diplomatically and militarily". He said that there have been times when the country has been receptive to "outside prompting", and that he hoped it would listen to the UK's concerns.

The Member also asked the Minister to put the views of Parliament to Bahraini authorities, and to tell officials there that a sovereign intervention would be "noticed and appreciated".

He ended:

"I hope that the work by this House, by Amnesty International, by Reprieve and by Human Rights Watch will get the proper attention it deserves."

Image: Creative Commons

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