Spotlight on Bahrain

In 2017 Bahrain made a dangerous return to the death penalty by carrying out their first executions in 7 years. The events leading up to these executions were a catalogue of human rights violations – including forced ‘confessions’, torture and unfair trials.

On 15 January 2017, the Bahraini authorities executed Ali Al-Singace (21), Abbas Al-Samea (27) and Sami Mushaima (42) by firing squad. The families came to the prison the day before, but the guards refused to say if they were about to be executed.

They are the first people executed in Bahrain since 2010, and the first Bahrainis executed since 1996. Their executions came less than a week after Bahrain’s highest court upheld their death sentences.

The executions were conducted in direct contravention of Bahrain’s international obligations. The UN Special Rapporteur, Dr Agnes Callamard, called their executions “extrajudicial killings”.

Notable executions

On Sunday 15th January 2017, three men were executed by firing squad in Bahrain. Their names were Ali Al-Singace, Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima.

The three men were targeted due to their families’ links to political opposition and convicted on spurious grounds. Ali was sentenced to death without ever appearing in a court. Abbas was given a death sentence despite having been teaching in a school at the time of the crime. Sami was illiterate, and was forced to sign a ‘confession’ he could not read.

All three were sentenced to death after being convicted on the basis of forced ‘confessions’ extracted by horrific torture, including beatings, electric shocks and sexual assault.

Victims of horrific human rights abuses, not criminals – the stories of three men executed by firing squad in Bahrain

British involvement

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.

The UK provides training to Bahraini security forces, including how to gather intelligence on protestors, and funds a ‘torture watchdog’ that repeatedly failed to properly investigate the appalling allegations of abuse lodged by the men who were executed in January.

Britain’s cash and Bahrain’s firing squads – 5 things we’ve learned

Prisoners facing execution

Mohammed Ramadan

During his initial detention, police officers told Mohammed outright that they knew he was innocent, but were punishing him as a traitor for attending pro-democracy demonstrations.

In February 2014, Mohammed was arrested from Bahrain International Airport, where he worked as a police officer. He was accused of involvement in an attack on other police officers, despite a total lack of evidence tying him to the crime.

Nearly every aspect of Mohammed’s arrest, detention and trial has breached basic international human rights law. He has been tortured, refused access to legal counsel, and convicted in a trial that relied on evidence elicited through torture. He has been afforded no semblance of due process. Yet Mohammed, who is a father to three young children, now faces imminent execution.

Reprieve is working with Mohammed’s family to secure the commutation of his death sentence.

Find out more about Mohammed’s case and what you can do to help.

Quick facts

Execution method

  • Firing squad

Executions in 2017

So far, 3 people have been executed (as of May 2017).

Executions in 2016

No executions were carried out in 2016.