Activists demand end to death row in Bahrain
Manama, October 11, 2012
Activists have demanded an end to capital punishment in Bahrain, where five people are on death row.
They want the country to sign a human rights protocol that would remove the death penalty from the Penal Code.
It comes as the tenth World Day Against the Death Penalty was marked yesterday across the globe. It was launched by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty - an alliance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), bar associations and unions.
"All human rights organisations are asking for the abolition of death penalty," said Bahrain Human Rights Society member Abdulla Al Derazi.
Voicing his concerns about the issue, he told our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, "It's a controversial issue in this region because it is an Islamic practice based on 'an eye for an eye' belief."
Bahrain Transparency Society head Abdulnabi Al Ekry urged the authorities to sign the United Nations Optional Protocol, which includes an article that obliges governments to eliminate the outdated practice.
"Bahrain is not part of the Optional Protocol related to the International Convention on Civil and Political rights because it contradicts the Sharia Law," he said.
"The protocol states that there is no death penalty under the law.”
"This penalty can be replaced by life imprisonment. I urge the government to sign the protocol and they can address their reservations on the death penalty."
According to a well-placed source, five men convicted of murder are currently on death row in Bahrain.
Four of them still have a final chance to appeal the verdict at Bahrain's highest court, the Cassation Court, while one of them is awaiting the decision of His Majesty King Hamad.
"The first degree court cannot give the death penalty in a case unless all the three judges unanimously agree on it," explained the source.
"Bahrain doesn't have a court system like the US or the UK. We don't have juries here. We have judges and all the judges have to agree, otherwise the sentence cannot be carried out, which is similar to the jury system.”
"Only felony cases are eligible for the death penalty. But even after the sentence is handed out, they can apply for appeal in the Appeals Court. They will also be given a final appeal later in the Cassation Court.”
"However, after the final ruling, the decision can be overturned by His Majesty because he has the right to pardon anyone.”
"No one under the age of 21 has ever been sentenced to death and by law, no one under the age of 19 can be given the death penalty."
Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry official said the majority of death penalties get reduced to life sentences upon appeal.
"People who have been given the death sentence will stay on death row until the King signs off on the execution," said the official.
"Most of these kind of cases will be reduced to life sentence through the appeal process." – TradeArabia News Service
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