Bahrain death row prisoner urges Pope Francis to help secure his release

Bahrain death row prisoner urges Pope Francis to help secure his release
Thirty-nine-year-old Mohammad Ramadhan, a former security guard who is now on death row, alleges he was tortured into confessing and has urged Pope Francis to push for his release during his visit to Bahrain.
2 min read
03 November, 2022
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Bahrain on Thursday [Getty/file photo]

A former security guard on death row in Bahrain has urged Pope Francis to call for his release during the Pope's visit to the Gulf country.

Mohammed Ramadhan, who has been in Bahraini prison for the past nine years, insists a confession was obtained via torture. 

He requested the pontiff to "ask the king of Bahrain to release me and reunite me with my family and children", according to a letter shared by the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD). 

Ramadhan, 39, along with Husain Moosa, 36, was convicted of a 2014 bombing that killed a police officer.

Both men, members of Bahrain's Shia Muslim community, were given death sentences. 

Ramadhan, who has previously attended pro-democracy protests in the country,  maintains his innocence and claims he was tortured into confessing.

He also criticised British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who allegedly failed to keep his promise of raising Ramadhan's case with Bahraini authorities during a visit last year. 

The families of other inmates who have been sentenced to death also called on the Pope to advocate for their release. 

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"Our family members remain behind bars and at risk of execution despite the clear injustice of their convictions," they wrote in a letter. "Many of them were targeted because they took part in pro-democracy protests during the Arab spring."

Bahrain has been criticised for its human rights record, especially for its crackdown on the country's Shia majority in the aftermath of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising when protestors were imprisoned on flimsy charges.

A recent report from BIRD and Human Rights Rights Watch which looked at eight prisoners on death row found that there had been serious breaches of international law during their trials.

They were sentenced based entirely on confessions that had allegedly been coerced through torture, beatings, sleep deprivation, and attempted rape. 

Pope Francis will begin his historic trip to Bahrain on Thursday in what will be his second visit to the Gulf following a 2019 trip to the UAE.