Profiles in Persecution: Fadhel Abbas Shajjar

Fadhel Abbas Shajjar is an 18-year-old Bahraini prisoner currently held in New Dry Dock Detention Center. He was arbitrarily arrested and subjected to torture as a minor.

On 17 April 2016, Fadhel was arrested after 16 masked men in civilian clothing raided his home in Karbabad. The men raided the house at approximately 2:30am without any warrant or other reasonable grounds to search the premises or detain Fadhel. The officers checked Fadhel’s identity card and determined that they had, in fact, entered and searched the wrong home, but arrested him nonetheless. Fadhel was 16 years of age at his arrest.

Immediately following his arrest, the officers took Fadhel for interrogation for 21 days, during which his whereabouts were unknown and he was held largely incommunicado. During this time, the officers tortured Fadhel, including by physical beatings and throwing burning substances at him. If Fadhel attempted to move in order to avoid being burned, the guards would slap him on the face and hit him with a full gallon water bottle.

After his torture, the officers transferred Fadhel to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he remained during his trial. On 6 June 2017, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and stripped of his nationality on the charge of watching a police car burn. He was not, however, charged with actively participating in the burning of the police car.  This sentence was upheld on appeal on 27 February 2018.

On 21 May 2018, the Court of Cassation confirmed the lower courts’ ruling and upheld the ten-year sentence against Fadhel. He has now exhausted all domestic remedies of appeal, and remains in New Dry Dock Detention Center.

Bahrain’s actions against Fadhel violate its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties. Fadhel’s arbitrary arrest without a warrant or other grounds is in violation of Bahraini law and violates the right to freedom from arbitrary detention under the ICCPR (Article 9). Further, because he was issued such a heavy sentence for the apparent crime of watching a car burn, his sentence lacks sufficient legal justification. His torture is also in violation of the ICCPR (Article 7), as well as the CAT.

ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Fadhel’s conviction in light of the lack of credible 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 officials and to hold those officials accountable.