Profiles in Persecution: Hani and Hussain Marhoon

Hani Marhoon is the father of Hussain Marhoon, both of whom were arbitrarily arrested by Bahraini authorities in the span of four years. Hussain was just 16 years old at the time of his arrest, which came four years after his father’s detention. Both father and son were tortured during interrogation and continue to face ill-treatment in government custody. Hani, now 45, is currently serving a 15-year sentence in Jau Prison while Hussain remains in New Dry Dock, the detention center for juveniles.

Around 1:00am on 18 November 2013, masked officers in plain clothing raided Hani’s house and arrested him without a warrant. They then took him to the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) to be interrogated. During this interrogation, CID officers subjected Hani to various forms of torture in order to coerce a confession. This included threatening to sexually assault his wife in his presence.

Hani was convicted on charges of creating a terror cell and sentenced to 15 years in prison on 28 April 2015. He was also stripped of his citizenship. Authorities in Jau have continued to subject Hani to torture and ill-treatment. They confiscated the crutches Hani used due to a prior leg surgery, unjustifiably placed him in solitary confinement, denied him prayer for two days, denied him contact with his family, and arbitrarily cancelled a visitation initially scheduled for 7 January 2018.

The authorities came for Hani’s 16-year-old son, Husain, at approximately 4:00am on 20 February 2017. Security forces raided the family home, again without a warrant and arrested Hussain. They beat him, held a handgun to his head, and threatened to kill him. Officers took Hussain to the AlMarid Police Station in eastern Manama, where they continued to beat him, punching him in the head and face. They also threw cold water on him on a night when the temperature dropped to 10.5 degrees Celsius.

During Hussain’s subsequent interrogation, officers beat him all over his body, concentrating most of the blows to his head and face. They also doused him in hot water, threatened to gang-rape him, and threatened to harm his family. Hussain was temporarily transferred to Jau Prison, where the torture continued. In Jau, officers suspended Hussain by his arms and legs. A group of security personnel punched and kicked him repeatedly, leaving blood streaming from Hussain’s nose. Throughout the torture, interrogators demanded that Hussain sign a confession purporting that there were firearms and grenades in his home.

Hussain was charged with participating in a demonstration on 15 February 2017, causing a public disturbance, burning tires, rioting, and possessing Molotov cocktails, firearms and grenades. The First Lower Criminal Court convicted Hussain on multiple charges, and he is sentenced to remain in prison until August 2019. Hussain remains in New Dry Dock, where officers still subject him to regular beatings. Hussain suffers from severe back pain due to the torture, and he also suffers from low blood pressure.

Bahrain’s actions against Hani and Hussain violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Article 9 right to freedom from arbitrary detention), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Article 12 right to health). ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Hani and Hussain’s convictions and ensuring that any subsequent trials are consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill-treatment by prison officials in both cases, to hold those officials accountable, and to provide necessary healthcare to Hani, Hussain, and all individuals in Bahraini custody.