The British government will only intervene to “loudly remind Bahrain” of its human rights obligations if the death sentences on Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa are confirmed on Monday, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said in parliament yesterday.
“I can assure [Kim Johnson MP] that if the death penalties are upheld through the court of cassation process, that the UK will both publicly and loudly remind Bahrain of our opposition to the death penalty,” he said.
The minister’s statement comes after Sir Peter Bottomley MP asked an urgent question calling for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to raise Ramadan and Moosa’s cases with the government in Manama. Bottomley urged Cleverly to “make a statement on whether he’ll use the UK’s constructive dialogue with the government of Bahrain publicly to raise the case of two prisoners who have been sentenced to death following torture and face a hearing this Monday when their death sentences may be confirmed.”
On Wednesday, peers in the House of Lords made similar statements, calling on the government to intervene in the case.
Monday’s hearing is the last part of an appeal against the murder convictions which were handed down in December 2014, but later suspended in 2018. The reprieve came after evidence was produced which showed that both Ramadan and Moosa had been tortured and forced into signing false confessions. In January this year, however, an appeals court reinstated the convictions and death sentences. According to Cleverly, British Embassy officials in Manama condemned the move.
Ramadan and Moosa stand accused of orchestrating a 2014 bombing in Muharraq which killed a police officer. Ten other Bahraini nationals were convicted after the attack, receiving prison sentences ranging from six years to life.
British parliamentarians have frequently questioned Bahrain’s human rights abuses in both Houses of Parliament, highlighting the rise in recorded violations, despite the millions of pounds of “technical assistance” that the Gulf state has received from Britain since 2012. The aid package, which cost British taxpayers £6.5 million, has been used to train Bahrain’s police officers and prison guards on human rights issues and to establish institutions to investigate allegations of torture.
Yesterday, Cleverly claimed that these oversight bodies “are only in existence because of the strength of the relationship between the UK and the government of Bahrain.” He added that, as a result of this close relationship, “If the death penalty is handed down again… our opposition to the death penalty will be restated at both official and ministerial level to the government of Bahrain.”