Profiles in Persecution: Sayed Ali Saleh

Sayed Ali Saleh is a minor who is being arbitrarily detained in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. He was a 15 year-old student at the time of his arrest, and has been subjected to torture on multiple occasions.

Sayed Ali was arrested on 27 November 2015 by plainclothes officers for driving a car without a license. The police confiscated the car and called his parents to inform them that he was being held at Badi’ Station for a traffic offense. When his parents went to retrieve the car the next day, the government had changed the charge to political offenses.

The authorities charged Sayed Ali with participation in a terrorist organization, making “fake bombs,” possession of Molotov cocktails, and unlawful gathering and rioting. On the date the incidents in question allegedly took place, however, Sayed Ali was playing in a table tennis tournament. Sayed Ali’s coach and team members testified to this at his trial, and even provided a letter from the president of the table tennis club and a copy of the match schedule. Despite this exculpatory evidence, he was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to six years in prison.

In addition to violating his rights to a fair trial, the authorities have also repeatedly tortured Sayed Ali. He was first tortured after his arrest in 2015 at the Al-Budaiya police station. He was beaten, kicked, electrocuted, deprived of sleep, and restricted from bathing. The beating left his face bruised and swollen, and he has suffered convulsions since that time. Sayed Ali asked to see a doctor regarding these injuries, but he has not been examined.

Sayed Ali’s family filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman in November 2015. The Ombudsman responded that the facts of the case merited investigation of a possible crime committed by state officials, and transferred the case to the Special Investigation Unit. The Ombudsman stated that the office would keep the family informed on the matter, but no updates have been provided, despite repeated requests from Sayed Ali’s family.

Sayed Ali was tortured again in October 2017. Two prison officers beat him, smashing his head until he bled from the mouth, lost consciousness, and fell. The officers also insulted his honor and his mother. Sayed Ali’s mother filed another complaint with the Ombudsman, and a representative visited him, recorded his statements, collected his bloodstained clothes, and promised to take the necessary legal measures regarding the incident. At the time of writing, there has been no resolution to this complaint. Sayed Ali remains in Jau Prison.

Bahrain’s actions against Sayed Ali violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 7 and 9). Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties. ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Sayed Ali’s conviction in light of the exculpatory evidence, and ensuring that any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by prison officials, to hold those officials accountable, and to keep Sayed Ali’s family informed on the status of his complaints.