Profiles in Persecution: Taha Sayed Shubar

Taha Sayed Shubar is a 36-year-old father who is being arbitrarily detained and tortured in Dry Dock Detention Center. He is also being denied healthcare for his injuries.

Taha was arrested on 3 November 2015 by officers in plain clothing and commando forces who raided his workplace. He noted several police jeeps and armored vehicles carrying the Ministry of Interior’s insignia outside. Concurrently, they raided his home while his wife and children were present. Taha’s ID card, passport, and other documents were confiscated during the raid. They also took computers, private video cameras, home surveillance cameras, a mattress, and a pillow. Taha and his family were not informed why he was arrested, and no arrest or search warrant was issued at the time of Taha’s arrest or during the raid on their home.

Taha was taken to the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigative Directorate (CID). He was able to call his family after 24 hours, but was only able to say, “I am at the Criminal Investigations Directorate” before he hung up. He was then subjected to torture by National Security Agency (NSA) officers. Taha suffered injuries on his head, shoulders, and feet, and his hearing has become impaired due to the torture. He requested, but was not given, any medical treatment for his injuries. The NSA’s powers of arrest and interrogation were revoked in 2011 following a recommendation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which uncovered evidence that the institution was responsible for torture and extrajudicial killings. The BICI concluded that, due to its involvement in severe abuses, the NSA should be “an intelligence gathering agency without law enforcement and arrest authority.” Bahrain’s king restored the NSA’s authority in January 2017, but evidence indicates that it continued to torture detainees like Taha even before it was formally re-empowered to arrest and interrogate.

When Taha refused to disclose information about his brother to the NSA, the torture increased. The authorities forced him to confess and threatened to bring charges against his family. His brother and sister had also been detained, and he was threatened with the potential detention of his wife if he did not confess.

The authorities charged Taha with being a member of a terrorist organization, training in the use of weapons with the intent of committing terrorist crimes, and the possession of firearms without a license. The charges stem from an alleged weapons factory in the basement of his home, despite the family only moving in two weeks before Taha’s arrest and their claims that no weapons were found in the house.

Taha’s lawyer did not receive power of attorney until four months after he was detained, and was not able to see Taha until several hearings of his trial had passed. Taha’s family filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman in November 2015 to complain about the torture Taha suffered during interrogation. On 15 May 2018, Taha was convicted and given a life sentence in a mass sentencing of 115 people. His citizenship was also revoked. Taha remains in Dry Dock Detention Center.

Bahrain’s actions against Taha and the torture he has endured violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Articles 2 and 15), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 7 and 9), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 12). Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties.

ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Taha’s conviction in light of the evidence of a coerced confession 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 these officials accountable, and to keep Taha’s family informed on the status of his complaints.