Boris Johnson’s Bahrain response ‘woefully inadequate’ – Reprieve

January 15, 2017

International human rights organization Reprieve has criticised the response of the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, to Bahrain’s execution this morning of three men.

The three men, Ali Al-Singace (21), Abbas Al-Samea (27) and Sami Mushaima (42), were executed by firing squad after being convicted on the basis of forced ‘confessions’.

A statement from the Foreign Secretary did not confirm whether the Government took steps to prevent the executions. The statement also did not address concerns, raised by Reprieve, over the risk of UK complicity in the executions and other abuses such as torture.

Mr Johnson said: “The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty, and it is our longstanding position to oppose capital sentences in all circumstances. The Bahraini authorities are fully aware of our position and I have raised the issue with the Bahraini Government.”

The UK Foreign Office has spent over £5 million in aid money on reforming Bahrain’s human rights record since protests swept the Gulf kingdom in 2011. Reprieve has gathered information that suggests the assistance programme failed to protect the three men from torture.

Documents obtained by Reprieve, and reported in the Observer today, reveal that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons helped plan inspections of custody facilities in Bahrain; including the police station where all three men were tortured. Their abuse continued after inspections took place. The six-page inspection report failed to mention their allegations of torture.

The FCO has also funded a UK state-owned body, NI-CO, to train two oversight institutions in Bahrain, an Ombudsman and a Special Investigations Unit. Both bodies rejected Mr al-Samea’s complaint about his torture, without conducting a proper investigation.

The three men are the first people executed in Bahrain since 2010, and the first Bahrainis executed since 1996.

There are now concerns about two other men on Bahrain’s death row who are also at imminent risk of execution, Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Moosa. Both say they were tortured into providing false confessions at the same police station as the three men who were executed today.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“The UK is one of Bahrain’s biggest backers – last year Boris Johnson’s Department oversaw £2m of support to the Kingdom’s prisons and wider criminal justice system. Unfortunately, the Bahraini bodies trained by the UK repeatedly failed to properly investigate appalling torture allegations lodged by the men who were executed today. Given this fact – and the grave miscarriages of justice that have taken place today – the Foreign Secretary’s statement is woefully inadequate. It fails even to confirm whether HMG had opposed the imminent executions during recent high level meetings with Bahraini officials.

 

“The Government should immediately suspend its involvement with Bahrain’s criminal justice system and Ministry of Interior, and make clear to the Kingdom’s leaders that the UK unequivocally condemns its actions.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at]reprieve.org

2. Reprieve’s research into UK support for Bahrain is available here, while further detail about the cases is available on request.