Profiles in Persecution: Ali Radhi Salman

Ali Radhi Salman is a 28-year-old Bahraini citizen who served as a data auditor at the National Institution of Excavations before his arrest in 2012. He has been subjected to torture and sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison in an unfair trial. He currently remains in Jau Prison, where he has been subjected to further torture and rights violations.

On 20 October 2012, Ministry of Interior (MOI) police, National Security Agency (NSA) personnel, and unidentified commando forces   believed to be from the MOI’s Special Security Force Command arrested Ali from a friend’s home without a warrant. They took him to the MOI’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where they subjected him to torture for five days, in order to coerce a confession. Officers physically beat him, subjected him to electric shock, burned him with cigarettes, held him in a cold room, and subjected him to forced standing. They also hung him upside down. Ali eventually signed a confession, which he claims is false. He maintains his innocence. After the five days at the CID, the officers transferred him to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he was subjected to further torture in reprisal for a statement issued by the detainees which stated that prisoners of conscience were being harassed, and announced a detainee strike in response.

Two days later, he was sent to Nabih Saleh Police Station for 11 days, during which he undertook a hunger strike to protest the ill treatment to which he had been subjected. After these 11 days officers returned him to Dry Dock, where he was held pending trial. During this time, officers tortured Ali and held him in solitary confinement as punishment.  Activists on social media circulated news about Ali’s torture and hunger strike in Nabih Saleh. Ali was even presented to a forensic doctor who confirmed that there were signs of possible torture. An investigation has been opened into his case, but has not reached a conclusion.

Despite the investigation into the evidence of this torture, his trial continued and he was convicted. On 17 March 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges relating to the bombing in Eker of April 2012, and on 9 January 2014 he was sentenced to a further 15 years for a second bombing, for a total of 30 years. Shortly after his sentencing, he was transferred to Jau Prison, where he currently remains. He is one of many inmates who reported torture and ill treatment as part of the MOI’s collective punishment of the prison population following the unrest in Jau Prison in March 2015.

In addition to subjecting Ali to torture and an unfair trial, the Bahraini authorities have also failed to address Ali’s medical needs. He reports that he never received medical treatment following his torture, only painkillers. He also submitted complaints to the MOI Ombudsman and the Bahraini National Institution for Human Rights because his glasses broke two years ago and no attempts have been made to repair or replace them. At the time of submission, no action has been taken by either body.

Bahrain has violated a number of its international obligations in its treatment of Ali, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Ali’s arrest without a warrant is in violation of Bahraini law and international standards, and the use of a confession extracted through torture in the case against him is in violation of the CAT (Article 15), and renders his trial unfair under the ICCPR (Article 14). His ensuing incarceration is therefore an arbitrary detention, in violation of Article 9 of the UDHR and ICCPR. Further, the failure to provide medical care and glasses to Ali are in violation of Bahrain’s obligations under the ICESCR (Article 12).

ADHRB calls on Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by vacating Ali’s sentence, and ensuring that any future trial be conducted according to Bahrain’s obligations and international fair trial standards. We further call on the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by officials and to hold them accountable for their actions, and to ensure medical care for Ali and all others in Bahraini custody.