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Bahraini courts hand down death sentences to four more political dissidents

This file picture shows the entrance to the building of Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs in the capital Manama. (Photo via Twitter)

A London-based human rights organization says Bahraini courts have convicted and sentenced four anti-regime activists to death following unfair trials and based on confessions coerced through torture and ill-treatment.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said in a 61-page report, entitled "The Court is Satisfied with the Confession’: Bahrain Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials,” that Bahraini courts routinely violated the defendants’ rights to fair trials, including the right to legal counsel during interrogation, the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and through reliance on secretly sourced reports.

The report went on to note that much of the torture and ill-treatment occurred in two locations – the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, which is housed in a compound in the Adliya district of the capital Manama, and the Royal Academy of Policing, located adjacent to Bahrain’s notorious Jau Prison. 

BIRD called on Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah to commute the death sentences for all individuals, starting with those convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture or ill-treatment.

The human rights organization also urged Bahraini authorities to quash the sentences of all persons whose convictions involved the use of coerced confessions and/or fair trial violations. 

It further called for pressure on the Manama regime through public and diplomatic channels from the European Union and the United Kingdom, and at the same time urged London to suspend funding, technical assistance as well as training for Bahrain’s security services and the judiciary.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have staged rallies across Bahrain to dismiss the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country, amid an escalation of political repression and absence of meaningful reforms.

The participants demanded holding a referendum in the country, reiterated their commitment to the Palestinian issue, and condemned normalization of relations with the Israeli regime.

Protesters in Hamala village called for the immediate release of Sheikh Abdul-Jalil Al-Miqdad, a Bahraini Shia cleric who has been sentenced to life in prison, and other imprisoned political opponents.

Earlier, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric repudiated the country’s November 12 parliamentary polls, saying the ruling Al Khalifah regime has shut the door on free elections and political reforms in the tiny Persian Gulf Arab kingdom while trying to enslave the nation.  

“The [Manama] regime slams the door in the face of any voter or democracy advocate and seeks to place the yoke of slavery on the nation,” Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim wrote in a post published on his Twitter page on October 3.

“The regime actively directs every Bahraini citizen to the path of slavery and vassalage. Isn’t there anyone who would fear God and sound the alarm on the situation of his homeland and compatriots?” the senior cleric added.

Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

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