Profiles in Persecution: Fadhel Abbas Isa

Fadhel Abbas Isa is a 33-year-old Bahraini customs broker. Sentenced in absentia to seven years of imprisonment for arson in 2013, tortured in 2014, and then sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015, Fadhel is currently held in Jau Prison.

On 2 November 2014, five officers in plain clothing arrested Fadhel without a warrant at his workplace in Muharraq. The officers handcuffed him and forcibly disappeared him for 20 days, during which they explicitly denied having him in custody. Officers interrogated Fadhel at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for ten days and at the Riffa police station, where he remained for ten additional days. On 22 November 2014, Fadhel was transferred to Jau Prison, where he was denied outside contact for another week.

During the interrogations, officers subjected Fadhel to various methods of torture in order to extract a confession. These included sleep deprivation, physical beatings, and electric shocks. The officers also forced Fadhel to sit on broken glass. In addition to being physically and mentally abused, Fadhel was subjected to sexual harassment. Despite the torture, Fadhel maintained his innocence and refused to confess. The abuse caused blood clots to form on Fadhel’s back, and authorities later broke his arm during the collective punishment of inmates at Jau Prison in March 2015.

On 5 November 2015, the High Criminal Court sentenced Fadhel to life in prison and denaturalized him on the charge of collaborating with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. During the trial he was denied access to a lawyer. This sentence was upheld on appeal and ultimately confirmed by Bahrain’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.

Bahrain’s actions against Fadhel violate its obligations under international law. The torture he was subjected to during the interrogations violate Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Articles 7, 9, and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). By denying him consultation with counsel and the right to prepare his defense prior to his trial, Bahrain also violated Fadhel’s right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 14(3) of the ICCPR. Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties.

ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Fadhel’s conviction and life sentence and ensuring that any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We also urge authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by prison officials and to hold these officials accountable.