Profiles in Persecution: Ahmed Abdulla AlAjaimi

Ahmed Abdulla AlAjaimi is a 21-year old from Karranah, Bahrain. Before his arrest and detention, he was a first year student at Ahlia University. In 2017, he was arbitrarily arrested, disappeared and tortured at the Ministry of Interior (MoI)’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). He is currently in Jau Prison.

Authorities have repeatedly arrested Ahmed in reprisal for his participation in peaceful protests and association with political opposition. His most recent arrest occurred on 1 November 2017, when he was arrested from King Fahd Causeway by a mix of officers dressed in civilian clothing, riot police, and CID officers as well as officers from the National Security Agency (NSA) – an intelligence agency separate from the MoI.

These officers forcibly disappeared Ahmed until 13 November 2017.  During this time, officials continually tortured and interrogated him. They handcuffed and blindfolded him, physically beat him, and prevented him from communicating with his family. Officials kicked, slapped, and bit Ahmed. They also beat Ahmed with their fists and with a plastic pipe known as a “hoop,” and they forced him to stand in dark or cold rooms for long periods of time. They insulted his Shia identity and threatened the use of electric shock to force him to sign a false confession. They additionally threatened him with an ultimatum to either work as an informant for them or submit to further assault.

The officers interrogated Ahmed at gunpoint with no legal counsel present, in order to coerce a false confession from him. He was broken down physically and psychologically, and on the third attempt to extract a false confession, he agreed out of fear of repeated torture.

Ahmed was charged with three offenses: (1) joining a group established contrary to the provisions of the law; (2) training in the use of weapons to commit terrorist offenses; and (3) illegal gathering and rioting.

Ahmed received no proper time to prepare for trial, and, while in detention, he continued to be denied access to legal counsel. On 24 May 2018, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment with revocation of his Bahraini nationality. He was unable to present relevant evidence or challenge any charges against him. He has currently been scheduled for appeal multiple times with constant delays or cancellations due to officials preventing him from appearing in Court, warranting a postponement of the hearings. He is awaiting appeal in Jau Prison, where he was transferred once he turned 21 and was sentenced.

ADHRB calls on Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling the sentence for Ahmed and ensuring that any future legal proceedings would be fair and in line with international standards, including access to qualified legal counsel. Additionally, we call on authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment, and to hold officials accountable for unlawful actions.