Profiles in Persecution: Hadeer Abdulla Abadi

Hadeer Abdulla Abadi is a 25-year-old Bahraini citizen who is being arbitrarily detained in Bahrain’s Isa Town Detention Center for Women. The authorities have mistreated her, threatened her with lengthy jail time, and continue to hold her in pre-trial detention.

On 10 January 2019, someone from the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) called and texted Hadeer’s phone, telling her to appear at the CID on 13 January without telling her why. Hadeer never received an official summons.

After Hadeer presented herself at the CID on 13 January, officers interrogated her for 12 hours without a lawyer. During that time, officers mistreated her, insulted her, cursed at her, and subjected her to what she described as “psychological pressure.” They yelled at her and threatened “decades” of prison time if she did not confess to joining a terrorist group and transferring money to a terrorist group. Hadeer held firm and did not confess to the charges.

After 12 hours, the officers presented Hadeer to the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP) without her lawyer present. The OPP ordered Hadeer to be detained for 30 days pending investigation, and the authorities transported her to the Isa Town Detention Center for Women for pre-trial detention.

On 12 February 2019, Hadeer had a second hearing at the OPP, this time accompanied by two lawyers. At the hearing, Hadeer submitted a letter demanding her release and rejecting the charges against her. The lawyers also asked for Hadeer’s release on bail. The OPP rejected both requests and renewed Hadeer’s detention for another 30 days. The lawyers then asked to speak with Hadeer for five minutes to raise her spirits, and the authorities allowed it on the condition that they would be present as well. This was the only contact Hadeer has had with legal counsel in the month since her arrest.

On 5 March, Hadeer’s family submitted a letter requesting Hadeer’s release on bail, but the prosecution rejected the request. On 14 March, Hadeer had a third hearing at the OPP, which extended her detention for another 30 days, however, authorities prevented her from speaking at the hearing. Additionally, while her lawyer was present, authorities prevented Hadeer from speaking with him.

On 11 April 2019, Hadeer had a fourth hearing, this time before the Terrorist Crimes Prosecution, a subdivision of the OPP. Hadeer was without her lawyer in this hearing, so she was forced to defend herself. Hadeer argued that she should be released since she had “nothing to do with” the charges she was facing. She also explained that her mother is in poor health, and that she is her mother’s caretaker. The authorities denied her request for release and extended her detention for another 30 days.

Hadeer remains in the Isa Town Detention Center for Women.

Bahrain has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), each to which Bahrain has acceded. Additionally, Bahrain has contravened principles of international law enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Officers summoned Hadeer without explanation, interrogated her without her lawyer, employed threatening and aggressive tactics during her interrogation, and held her in pre-trial custody for over three months, denying bail multiple times. The authorities’ attempts to compel Hadeer to incriminate herself violate her freedom from coercion and, along with their refusal to allow adequate access to her legal counsel, violate her right to a fair trial.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to end Hadeer’s detention, and if serious criminal charges can be maintained against her, ensure that she receives a fair trial consistent with due process norms. We additionally urge the Bahraini authorities to investigate claims of ill treatment and duress during interrogation, and to provide adequate redress.