Bahrain releases 1,584 prisoners after pardon

Bahrain releases 1,584 prisoners after pardon
The tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has pardoned and released over a thousand prisoners, including some who were serving life sentences.
2 min read
Bahrain has kept a lid on dissent since the 2011 an anti-government uprising [Getty]

Bahrain on Monday released 1,584 prisoners, including some serving life sentences and others convicted on charges related to protests that occurred in 2011.

The prisoners were pardoned. Bahrain has also released prisoners conditionally under a 2017 "alternative sentences" law, under which prisoners who had served at least half their sentence in jail were allowed to complete it outside via measures including community service, rehabilitation courses and electronic surveillance.

"Many of those released were originally convicted of violent crimes or public disorder offences. All Bail or related fees have been waived," the government communications office said in a statement.

About 65% of those released were convicted on charges related to riots, a government spokesperson told Reuters.

Bahrain has kept a lid on dissent since the mostly Shia opposition staged a failed anti-government uprising in 2011. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help crush that unrest.

The Gulf state has imprisoned thousands of protesters, journalists and activists - some in mass trials - since 2011. It says it prosecutes those who commit crimes in accordance with international law, and rejects criticism from the United Nations and others over the conduct of trials and detention conditions.

Bahrain has a Shia Muslim majority and is ruled by a Sunni royal family. It is the only one of the Gulf monarchies to have faced serious unrest during the Arab Spring protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011.

"Since its introduction in 2017, the Alternative Sentencing Programme has benefited nearly 6,500 prisoners in Bahrain," the government communications office statement said.