Sadeq Jaafar Ali is a 17-year old Bahraini national from the town of Al Aali. Bahraini forces arbitrarily arrested Sadeq, and tortured and interrogated him until he confessed to committing bogus state security crimes, for which he was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison and stripped of his Bahraini nationality in an unfair trial. He remains in New Dry Dock, the section of Jau Prison reserved for individuals under the age of 21.
On the morning of 5 October 2017, Sadeq was walking to school when several unmarked cars whose passengers arrested him without a warrant surrounded him. They took Sadeq to the Ministry of Interior (MoI)’s Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), where he was held for two and a half months.
While in the CID, officers interrogated and tortured Sadeq. The CID officers physically beat him and subjected him to long periods of solitary confinement to force him to sign pre-written confessions that were later used against him in trial. During such interrogations, the officers did not allow Sadeq to meet or speak with his legal counsel. After two and a half months of physical and psychological torture, Sadeq finally signed the confession, due to exhaustion and fear of further violence. A forensic doctor later confirmed the physical beatings during a medical examination, which the Court did not consider in its ruling.
The prosecution charged him with political gathering, rioting, and participation in terrorist acts. His recent charge is due to alleged participation and joining the “Bahrain Hezbollah” – an umbrella group used by the government to charge 169 other individuals.
The signed confessions were used as evidence against him to convict him of these charges, strip him of his Bahraini nationality, and sentence him to 13 years in prison. During his trial, the court did not allow him to speak with the lawyer assigned to his case.
While awaiting appeal, officials have denied Sadeq attendance to the proceedings or have brought him to the building but prevented him from entering the courtroom, resulting in his convictions being upheld due to his “absence,” depriving him of a fair appeals process.
ADHRB calls on Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling the sentences against young Sadeq and ensuring that the pending legal proceedings against him and others would be fair and in line with international standards, including access to qualified legal counsel and the rights to have evidence presented on his behalf. Additionally, we call on the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment, and to hold officials accountable. We further emphasize Sadeq’s case because he is a minor, and as such is awarded certain additional protections under international law.
This post was edited on 16 November 2018 to correct some factual errors. ADHRB originally reported that he was sentenced in multiple cases, amounting to a combined 20 years in prison and a fine of 10,000 Bahraini dinars. In fact, he has only been sentenced to 13 years in prison, and the fine was issued against another defendant in the case, not against Sadeq himself.