Profiles in Persecution: Sadeq Abdali AlAsfoor

Sadeq Abdali AlAsfoor is a 27-year-old Bahraini citizen who is being arbitrarily detained in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. Bahraini authorities subjected him to physical and mental torture from the moment of his arrest, including denial of medical care.

Officers from the Ministry of Interior and officers in plain clothing and masks surrounded Sadeq’s neighborhood with Jeeps early one morning in March 2012. At approximately 3:30 am, the officers stormed Sadeq’s home, entered the room where Sadeq was sleeping, searched it, and then tied and blindfolded Sadeq and put him in a police car. None of the officers gave cause for why they were arresting Sadeq, who was 20 years old at the time. The officers also failed to produce a warrant for either the search or arrest.

The Bahraini forces forcibly disappeared Sadeq for three days, sending his family from police station to police station looking for him. During this time, the Bahraini forces took Sadeq to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) to interrogate him. They handcuffed, blindfolded, and severely beat Sadeq during his interrogation and threatened that if he did not confess, they would take him to the “torture room.” Sadeq’s interrogators forced a confession out of him in an interrogation lasting more than four hours. On the fourth day after his arrest, the authorities finally called his family, disclosing that he was at the Dry Dock Detention Center pending trial, and asking that his family send clothes for Sadeq.

Bahraini authorities charged Sadeq with assault of a policeman, attempted murder, possession of a Molotov cocktail, burning a Jeep, and illegal assembly. The authorities denied Sadeq direct contact with his lawyer and also denied him an opportunity to present evidence on his behalf. However, the court allowed the prosecution to use the confession that Sadeq gave under torture against him.

In September 2013, the court sentenced Sadeq to 15 years’ imprisonment at Jau Prison. He lost his appeal a year and a half later and has remained in Jau Prison ever since. The Jau Prison administration harasses Sadeq and denies him medical care. Sadeq suffers from a toothache so severe that it led to facial swelling, but he still has not received adequate medical treatment for his tooth. The authorities took him to the prison clinic to examine his face, but not his teeth. The medical staff administered a facial injection that proved to be ineffective and they then advised that cold water may decrease the facial swelling, but did nothing to help reduce the tooth pain.

Sadeq also reports the prison engages in water cuts, only allowing the water to run for 10 minutes at a time. The prison staff will also turn off the heat and turn on the air conditioning in the winter, but will turn off the air conditioning in the summer. Furthermore, Sadeq states that prison authorities raid and inspect cells in the middle of the night to disrupt inmates’ sleep and provide insufficient meals and clothing for prisoners.

Bahrain’s actions against Sadeq violate international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), all of which Bahrain has acceded to. His arrest for”illegal assembly” violates his right to freedom of association and the denial of his access to legal counsel violates his rights under the ICCPR. Furthermore, by denying him access to legal counsel and due process rights, the authorities have arbitrarily detained him, in further violation of the ICCPR. Additionally, his torture and the use of his confession given under torture violate the CAT, and the denial of adequate medical care violates his rights under the ICESCR.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by vacating Sadeq’s sentence, and if criminal charges can be sustained against him, ensuring that he is given a fair retrial that is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the Bahraini authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by police and prison officials and to hold those officials accountable.