SALAM: Death sentences against civilians in military courts lack the minimum standard of fair trials

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SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights expresses its deep concern over the use of the Bahraini authorities of the judicial system to issue harsh sentences such as death sentences in an attempt to deter its opponents.

On April 25, 2018, three civilian Sayed Alawi Hussain, Sayed Fadel Abbas, Mohamed Al Mutghawi and a military citizen Mubarak Muhanna were tried under the law” Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts “, and the final verdict was handed down by the Military Court of Cassation on charges of “having intentions to target the general commander of the Bahrain Defense Force”. It is worth mentioning that the Bahrain’s military court is also under the command of the general commander.

Both civil and military judiciary in Bahrain does not abide by the guarantees of fair trial because of the lack of independence as they are part of the repressing machine against the opposition and political activists.

SALAM for democracy and human rights fear the death penalty against those persons mentioned above who have been sentenced to death by the Military Court of Cassation and this is the last court of law.

The military judiciary in Bahrain, both the military prosecution and the military courts, did not investigate the allegations of confessions extracted under torture, nor did they investigate cases of enforced disappearance against suspects that were documented by local and international human rights organizations. The victims reported being tortured during their enforced disappearance to force them to confess to charges of intentions that they did not commit. It is worth mentioning that the four accused testified this before the military court judge.

The civil judiciary in Bahrain has already issued death sentences against 22 people since the outbreak of protests calling for the transition to democracy in 2011. On January 15, 2017, three people were executed (Sami Mushaima, Abbas al-Samee, Ali al-Singace) on the charge of attacking police in the village of Daih. The civil judiciary has also failed to investigate their allegations of confessions extracted under torture.

The King of Bahrain is the person who approves the execution of the death penalty. He himself ratified a law on April 18, 2017, which abolished the civil judiciary in terms of the trial of those charged with serious terrorism-related charges and granted the powers to try them for military justice. These powers shall be determined for military trials of an exceptional and temporary nature during the period of war and crises. Herein lies the difference between the military courts which are permanent and are competent to try military personnel and military courts of exceptional character.

When civilians are subject to military justice, they are called “customary courts”. This situation is usually linked to foreign military occupation and the absence of civil administration. This does not apply to the real situation in Bahrain. However, the authoritarian regimes similar to the regime in Bahrain often resort to military courts to intimidate opponents and activists.

Based on the above, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights demands that the authorities in Bahrain:

    1. Immediately suspend the execution of the death penalty and release all those arrested and incarcerated in prison because of their political or social background.
    1. Stop the trial of civilians in the military judiciary.
  1. Make the judiciary independent and completely neutral from the rest of the authorities.