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Rights groups demand Pope Francis condemn violations during his visit to Bahrain

Nine human rights organizations made demands on Pope Francis, during his visit to Bahrain between November 3 and 6, 2022, urging the authorities of the Khalifa regime to end their human rights violations.

While in Bahrain, the Pope is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue, an interfaith forum sponsored by the government. He also will meet with religious leaders.

He is scheduled to meet Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and other Bahraini government officials on November 3.

In light of this historic trip, human rights organizations emphasized that the Pope should call on King Hamad and the Bahraini authorities publicly and behind closed doors to commute the death sentences issued against those sentenced to those sentences in the country and to impose a moratorium on the issuance and implementation of death sentences.

He should also urge Bahraini officials to issue a decree confirming the ban on all forms of torture and ill-treatment contained in Bahrain’s constitution and laws.

The organizations also urged Pope Francis to demand King Hamad release all imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression, including human rights activists, dissidents, and journalists. He should also urge the Bahraini authorities to end abuses against migrant workers.

Bahrain has executed six people since 2017 when it ended a de facto seven-year moratorium on the death penalty. Currently, 26 people are awaiting execution in Bahrain and can be executed once King Hamad ratifies their sentences.

Bahraini courts have convicted and sentenced the defendants to death after unfair trials that relied primarily or entirely on confessions allegedly obtained through torture and ill-treatment.

At least eight men were convicted and sentenced to death after credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment documented in a recent report: Maher Abbas Al-Khabbaz, Syed Ahmed Al-Abbar, Hussein Ali Mahdi, Hussein Ibrahim Ali Hussein Marzouk, Salman Issa Ali Salman, and Zuhair Ibrahim Jassim Abd Allah, Muhammad Ramadan, and Hussein Musa.

The public prosecutor and the courts did not investigate these allegations, which in some cases were corroborated by doctors’ findings.

However, in summary, the courts concluded that no ill-treatment or abuses occurred in the hasty rulings, which are riddled with inconsistencies and, in some cases, contradictory to admissible evidence.

The Catholic Church has previously stated that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an assault on the sanctity and dignity of the individual” and that the Church is “working with determination to abolish it throughout the world.”

On August 31, Pope Francis reiterated that “the death penalty is unacceptable” and called on “all people of goodwill to work for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world.”

The organizations said that Pope Francis should respond to his call and publicly demand that Bahrain halt all executions, abolish the death penalty, and seriously investigate allegations of torture and violations of the right to a fair trial.

Prominent Bahraini opposition leaders have been in prison for more than a decade for their roles in the 2011 pro-democracy protests.

Among them is the head of the opposition association of Al-Haq, Hassan Mushaima, opposition leader Abdul-Wahhab Hussein, prominent human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, Al-Haq spokesman Abdul Jalil Al-Singace, Sheikh Muhammad Habib Al-Miqdad, Sheikh Ali Salman, Ali Al-Hajji, and Naji Al-Fateel , and activist Syed Nizar Al-Wadaei.

The Pope should call on the Bahraini authorities to unconditionally release all those convicted of political convictions on incidental charges or after unfair trials.

The signatories:

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

rights activation center

Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights

Human Rights Watch

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