Profiles in Persecution: Sayed Mohamed Alawi

Sayed Mohamed Alawi is a 14-year-old child arbitrarily detained in Bahrain’s Juvenile Detention Center. Bahraini authorities held him incommunicado for several hours and denied him a fair trial, sentencing him to up to a year in prison simply for participating in a peaceful protest.

On 12 November 2018, Bahraini police contacted Sayed Mohamed’s father and, without explanation, demanded that he bring his 14-year-old son to the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP) the next day. The next day, Sayed Mohamed went with his father to the OPP in Manama, where Ministry of Interior (MoI) police arrested Sayed Mohamed and informed his father that they would transfer him to the Juvenile Care Center in Isa Town. That day, the government charged Sayed Mohamed with illegal assembly, rioting, and possession of Molotov cocktails.

Police transferred Sayed Mohamed from the OPP to the Al-Maarid police station and interrogated him for two hours without a lawyer. Out of fear, Sayed Mohamed confessed to the illegal assembly, but denied the other charges. Police then transferred him to the Juvenile Care Center in Isa Town, where they held him incommunicado for three days. They finally let Sayed Mohamed call his family, but they did not allow them to visit until a week after Sayed Mohamed’s arrest.

Police detained Sayed Mohamed for over a month, continuously extending his detention every week. The Bahraini government tried him in three court sessions. While his lawyer was present in the first two sessions, neither his lawyer nor his family were present in the third and final sentencing session. Additionally, Sayed Mohamed never met his lawyer outside the courtroom.

On 6 January 2019, the court convicted Sayed Mohamed of illegal assembly and sentenced him to six months in the Juvenile Care Center in Isa Town, with the possibility of another six months depending on whether or not he receives a certificate of good conduct. After his conviction, Sayed Mohamed’s parents asked a police officer how to appeal the conviction, but the officer actively dissuaded them from doing so, calling an appeal “useless.” Sayed Mohamed remains at the Juvenile Care Center.

Bahrain’s actions against Sayed Mohamed violate international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to both of which Bahrain has acceded. His arrest for participating in a demonstration violates his rights to free association, expression, and peaceful assembly under the ICCPR and the CRC.  The denial of his access to legal counsel and of adequate time and facilities to prepare for trial violate his rights to a fair trial under the ICCPR. Furthermore, by denying him a fair trial, the authorities have arbitrarily detained him, in further violation of the ICCPR and the CRC. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by giving Sayed Mohamed a fair retrial that is consistent with due process and fair trial rights.