Profile in Persecution: Mohamed Abdulla AlSankis

Mohamed Abdulla AlSankis is a 53-year-old Bahraini and a former Ministry of Works laboratory technician. He was arrested in 2012 without a warrant and has since been arbitrarily detained and denied medical treatment while serving a 12.5 year prison sentence resulting from an unfair trial.

On 15 May 2012, Mohamed was sleeping when roughly 15 officers (most likely belonging to the Special Security Force Command) in plain clothing and masks surrounded and forcibly entered his home, breaking a window. The officers beat and verbally abused Mohamed before removing him to the street in front of a police vehicle. There, authorities continued to beat and “trample” Mohamed before forcing him into the police vehicle, where he was again beaten and harassed.

The officers disappeared Mohamed for one week, during which time he was held at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). While at the CID, prison authorities beat Mohamed and asked him to sign a confession while obscuring the content. When he refused, the beatings worsened. Still, Mohamed refused to sign the document. Mohamed was initially charged with belonging to the “February 14 Coalition” (an informal and mostly online group that the Bahraini Government has designated a terrorist organization), and charges of inciting youths to assault a security officer and illegal assembly were later brought against him. He was sentenced to a total of 12.5 years in prison. The authorities denied Mohamed access to his attorney and convicted him in absentia on the second charge.

On 15 October 2018, Mohamed began a hunger strike to protest his unlawful detention and unfair trial. On 22 October, a nurse found him clinically undernourished and stated that Mohamed required intravenous treatment. However, prison officials responded by prohibiting Mohamed from receiving treatment until he abandoned his hunger strike. On 24 October, Mohamed ended the hunger strike, following assurances from the Special Investigation Unit that they would follow up with his demands. However, as of late November, he has received no response.

Bahrain’s actions against Mohamed violate its obligations under international law, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), each of which Bahrain is a party to. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Mohamed’s conviction, as he was convicted in absentia and without access to his attorney, and to ensure that any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of denial of medical treatment and to hold those officials accountable.