The UK parliament’s longest-serving MP has condemned the execution of two Bahraini men in Saudi Arabia this week, as human rights groups say there is a grave risk of more to come.
Jaafar Sultan, 33, and Sadeq Thamer, 31, who were convicted on terrorism and protest-related charges and given the death penalty in 2021, long maintained that they were tortured into making confessions and denied access to lawyers until after their trial began.
Their cases were raised repeatedly by human rights groups, politicians and the UN, which warned Saudi Arabia twice that enforcing their death penalties could constitute arbitrary execution.
On Monday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency announced that the two men had been executed, an act MP Sir Peter Bottomley, father of the House of Commons, has told Middle East Eye was “a grave miscarriage of justice”.
“When Jaafar and Sadiq’s death sentences were finalised last year, I and 14 other parliamentarians wrote to the Saudi authorities, urging a halt to the executions,” said Bottomley, who is also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on democracy and human rights in the Gulf. “The cross-party call fell on deaf ears.”
Bottomley joined the men’s families, who only learned about the executions from news reports, in calling on Saudi authorities to hand over their bodies “as soon as possible”.
Jaafar’s father, Mohamed Ali Sultan, made a plea for their return in a video seen by MEE. “We request the return of our sons’ bodies, granting us the fundamental right to lay them to rest in accordance with our beliefs and traditions,” he said. “We want our children to be buried next to us.”