Profiles in Persecution: Salman Isa Salman

Salman Isa Salman is a 34-year-old Bahraini who is currently facing the death sentence. On 27 December 2014, without presentation of a warrant, security forces beat and detained him during a house raid. They then transported him to a farm and beat him again while he was handcuffed. Bahraini television, which is closely controlled by the state, ran images of Salman shortly after the detention describing him as a “terrorist” and praising the security forces for apprehending him.

After the beatings, the detaining forces transferred Salman to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for interrogation. Officers there accused him of killing a member of the security forces, and tortured him until he signed a prepared confession. They beat him until he fainted, electrocuted him, and left him naked in a cold room for six hours. Salman’s cousin had been detained alongside him, and the security officers tortured the cousin as well in order to coerce Salman to sign.

Next the Bahraini state brought him before the Office of Public Prosecution, without any legal representative present, so the prosecutor could formally charge him based on the CID’s “investigation.” On 29 April 2015, a Bahraini court convicted Salman of “terrorism” and sentenced him to death. The state has held him at Jau prison pending execution of the death sentence.

The guards at Jau subjected Salman to further abuse, preventing him from praying and reading the Qur’an. Witnesses who saw Salman in early May 2015 report that he had bruises on his face and the backs and palms of his hands, a swollen ear, and had partially lost his hearing. It is obvious, given the circumstances, that the authorities holding him – presumably the guards at Jau – beat him again at some point around the time he was transferred to the prison.

Salman has gone through multiple stages of appeal on his death sentence, and final disposition of the case is still pending. In any event, Salman’s confessions were falsified, obtained illegally, and signed under torture. Bahraini authorities at every level of the criminal-justice system have denied him due process, making his trial and sentence unlawful. ADHRB calls for annulment of the conviction and sentencing based on this tainted “evidence,” and for any colorable charges against Salman to be tried via due process in proceedings which can be readily monitored by international observers. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain is a party, forbids torture and arbitrary detention and provides for important procedural guarantees which were not upheld in this case. If Bahraini authorities cannot mount a credible trial meeting these international standards, they are obligated to release Salman under their treaty commitments.