18 January 2015 – Washington, D.C. – On 17 February, a Bahraini court sentenced 17-year-old Bahraini-American Abdulla Jaffar to two years imprisonment on charges of participating in an illegal gathering, possession of Molotov cocktails and attacking policemen. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) condemns the court’s decision to sentence Jaffar based on fabricated charges and a confession obtained through torture. ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to immediately overturn the conviction against Jaffar and vacate his sentence.
Born in Virginia, Jaffar was arrested on 10 March 2014 and accused of attending an illegal protest, charges he vehemently denies. After being severely beaten by security forces, Jaffar falsely confessed to stop the abuse. He was released on bail on 23 June 2014 after his trial was repeatedly postponed due to a lack of witnesses and evidence. As a result of his detention, Abdulla was prevented from taking his final exams and missed an entire year of his education.
Jaffar is not the only American citizen facing judicial harassment in Bahrain. 26-year-old Tagi al-Maidan from Connecticut was arrested on 7 October 2012 by security forces who never presented an arrest warrant. After being subjected to torture, al-Maidan signed a false confession stating that he threw a stone at a police vehicle. Despite a complete lack of evidence, al-Maidan was convicted of assaulting a police officer and sentenced to 10 years in prison on 24 September 2013. In November 2014, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention officially declared that the Government of Bahrain is arbitrarily detaining Tagi al-Maidan and has inadequately responded to allegations of torture. The U.S. State Department expressed concern over the fairness of al-Maidan’s trial, as well as his “safety and welfare, [and] his treatment in prison, including his medical and nutritional needs.”
The aforementioned organizations call on the United States to:
- Publicly call for the immediate release of Abdulla Jaffar and Tagi al-Maidan;
- Urge the Government of Bahrain to adhere to its obligations under international law to safeguard the protection of human rights and due process rights of all minors currently imprisoned in Bahrain; and
- Urge the Government of Bahrain to immediately and independently investigate all allegations of torture.