Profiles in Prosecution: Adel Abdulwahed Ebrahim

Adel Abdulwahed Ebrahim, a 20 year-old citizen of Bahrain, was coerced into turning himself into authorities on 21 September 2018. He was detained without due process, tortured by Bahraini authorities, and is charged with crimes he maintains he did not commit. In addition, Adel has been denied medical treatment for the injuries he sustained from the torture used during his interrogation. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Government of Bahrain to investigate the crimes committed against Adel with the goal of holding the individual perpetrators responsible, and to ensure that he receives a fair trial.

On 21 September 2018, Adel’s father’s house was raided at 6:15 in the morning. Special Security Force Command (SSFC) officers forcefully entered the house and demanded that Adel’s father tell them how many children he had and their present locations. They did not give the family any reason for the raid. His father replied that his oldest son (Adel) was not in the house. The SSFC officers left but told Adel’s family that, if he did not reveal himself, they would continue to raid the house on a daily basis. The officers did not offer any rationale for their pursuit of Adel. Two hours later, Adel called his father and stated he would surrender himself. Fearing for his family, Adel turned himself in to the Ministry of Interior (MoI)’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID).

Neither Adel nor his family knew what he was being charged with or the nature of the investigation. It was later revealed that he was arrested as part of a group accused of being affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and committing sabotage during Ashura. But, it is unclear what evidence the government has that connects Adel with any of these activities.

Adel was held at the CID for six days, though there is reason to believe that he was transferred to the investigations building at the New Dry Dock facility intermittently. During these six days, officers subjected Adel to “severe torture” to coerce a confession. Despite the torture, he did not confess, and he maintains his innocence.

Adel has not described the details of the torture but he was taken to Al Qalaa Hospital for injuries including inflammation around his mouth, cracks from bleeding inside his mouth, and injuries to his jaw. Despite being taken to Al Qalaa Hospital, Adel was denied all effective treatment.

After six days at the CID, Adel was taken to the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP), where he was transferred to administrative detention pending judicial adjudication for 15 days. After these 15 days, Adel was again taken to the OPP office where, for the first time, the judge listed the charges against him. He also renewed Adel’s detention for a further 15 days.

The judge listed three charges: offending the king, inciting hatred towards the regime, and illegal assembly. The family learned of the charges by watching Bahraini state television and reading the newspapers. Prison authorities have not allowed Adel to contact his lawyer, which has affected his ability to prepare a defense to the numerous charges.

On 23 October, the OPP again renewed Adel’s detention for 15 more days. On 13 November, he was granted conditional release, pending his trial. Further, the charges of offending the king were dropped. His trial is expected to commence on 27 November 2018.

ADHRB urges Bahrain to uphold its international and domestic commitments, as exemplified in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to prohibit torture and arbitrary detention. The crimes committed against Adel, including his warrantless arrest, torture (psychological and physical), denial of access to legal counsel, denial of access to necessary healthcare, and detention without due process, are in violation of international law and need to be objectively investigated, with the goal of holding the individual perpetrators accountable.