Harm Reduction International, the International Drug Policy Consortium and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs published open letters today calling on the United Nations’ major human rights and drug control bodies to take all necessary actions to prevent the executions of two individuals convicted of drug trafficking in Bahrain. They were joined by 137 groups from 55 countries, including the International Commission of Jurists and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
On 28 January 2020, Bahrain’s highest court upheld the death sentences of two Bahraini men convicted of drug trafficking and smuggling, who are now believed to be at imminent risk of execution. In July 2019, Bahrain executed three men who were sentenced in flawed proceedings, drawing widespread international condemnation.
Civil society groups are seeking an urgent response from the newly appointed Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, on her first day in the office. They are also seeking responses from the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Mr. Cornelis de Joncheere and from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet.
Ms. Giada Girelli, human rights analyst at Harm Reduction International, states “The death penalty does nothing to prevent drug trafficking; in fact, it makes international cooperation impossible. Most states have now understood this. Rather than moving towards the extreme fringe of the international community, Bahrain should re-instate the moratorium on executions in place until 2017.”
The signatories highlight that, “Death sentences and executions for drug offences are prohibited under both international human rights and international drug control law.”
Harm Reduction International’s monitoring and research on the topic reveals that Bahrain has not executed anyone for these crimes in the past ten years. Of the 35 countries that retain the death penalty for drug offences, only four carried out executions in 2018 (China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Singapore).