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Bill Law: Boris Johnson's Silence on Bahrain's Human Rights Abuses is Deafening

2018-01-20 - 10:58 p

Bahrain Mirror: Journalist Bill Law strongly criticized British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, noting how Johnson has plenty to say on Brexit and renewing ties 'East of Suez', but strangely a statement condemning the kingdom's persecution of its Shia majority is notable in its absence.

The London-based Middle East and Gulf expert highlighted in an article published the Middle East Eye website the cases of two Bahraini men on death row, Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Moosa, who were convicted of the killing of a police officer in a bomb attack in 2014 but "say, and international human rights organisations agree, that their confessions were extracted under torture. They say they are innocent."

Bill Law said that "having exhausted all appeals, the two face execution at any moment," adding that "they - and their families - know that only a concerted effort from the international community can save them."

"The signs are not good," he stressed. "Neither the US nor the UK government has evinced interest in the case. And there is recent and chilling evidence to suggest that the sentence of the court will be carried out."

Concerning the first executions of Bahraini citizens since 1996 that took place in January of 2017, who too were charged and convicted of the murder of police officers alleged their confessions were extracted under torture- the executions which were deemed by UN special rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, a case of "extrajudicial killing", Bill Law noted that Boris Johnson had this to say: "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."

"Why would the foreign secretary would ruffle feathers with a complaint about unfair trials, tortured prisoners and the tarnished evidence that led to their deaths?," asked the political analyst, "especially after Bahrain's rulers had generously agreed to fund the building of a naval base for the UK, an offer that allowed the foreign secretary to boast that "Britain is back East of Suez"."

Bill Law noted that Reprieve, the NGO that strives to save lives from death rows worldwide, said that after agreement months ago from the Bahraini Ombudsman's Office to investigate the allegations of torture made by Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Moosa, the ombudsman could only report back that their case had been passed on to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) who have not responded to requests for information.

Reprieve and a group of British human rights lawyers noted that: "Despite claiming to have opened investigations, neither the ombudsman nor the SIU have communicated any findings to Mr Ramadan, Mr Moosa, their lawyer or their families. This too constitutes a serious breach of international law."

In his article, Law also pointed out how reform of the police was a central recommendation of the BICI report, which was accepted in full by the king, stressing that "towards that end the British government committed millions of pounds of support. Despite ongoing evidence of human rights abuses, that support continues to this day, to the tune of roughly $2.78m a year."

The Gulf expert further stated that "while Reprieve waits to hear something, anything, while the men on death row and their families desperately wait to hear something, anything, our foreign secretary has nothing to say."

Concluding his article, Bill Law further slammed the Foreign Secretary: "Plenty to say about Brexit, lots of (questionable) claims of loyalty toward the prime minister, colourful huzzas about arms sales to the Middle East and warm relations with the Gulf states but two men sitting on death row in Bahrain whose allegations of torture have not been investigated by Bahraini institutions established with UK funding, sustained with UK training and annual stipends -  on that Boris Johnson is silent."

"His is a silence that should shame us all," he added.

Arabic Version



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