Profiles in Persecution: Dr. AbdulJalil AlSingace

Dr. AbdulJalil AlSingace was a Bahraini academic, human rights activist, and blogger until 2011, when he was detained for his participation in protests. He is one of the “Bahrain Thirteen,” a group of 13 political leaders who were arrested for their role in the 2011 pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. Dr. AlSingace was tortured and sentenced to life imprisonment in an unfair trial on a charge of attempting to overthrow the government. He remains in Jau Prison, where the authorities continue to deprive him of necessary medical care.

Dr. AlSingace, now 57 years old, is an engineer by training, and was a professor at the University of Bahrain. He was a member of the AlWefaq and Haq political parties, and wrote a blog series that was critical of the Bahraini authorities, which the government banned in 2009. He was arrested on multiple occasions before 2011, on the basis of his human rights and political work.

On 17 March 2011, police officers and officers in plain clothing arrested him, reportedly forcefully entering his home and dragging him from his bed in the middle of the night without a warrant. They transferred him to a police station, then to AlQurain Military Prison, beating and insulting him on the way. Once at the military prison, officers subjected him to torture and threatened to kill him and members of his family, and held him in solitary confinement for two months.

In June 2011, Dr. AlSingace was convicted of “plotting to overthrow the government” by the National Safety Courts, quasi-military courts in which the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) determined “fundamental principles of a fair trial . . . were not respected . . .” His judgment was upheld on appeal on 28 September 2011.

Dr. AlSingace remains in Jau Prison, where the authorities have repeatedly prevented him from receiving necessary medical care. He suffers the effects of childhood polio and has sickle-cell anemia, with symptoms including chronic pain, numbness of the extremities, and shortness of breath. His health condition has deteriorated in prison due to torture during his initial detention and subsequent refusal to provide adequate medical care. Prison officials have in the past withheld his medication and prescription medical devices, particularly the rubber padding for his crutches.

Dr. AlSingace has not had a family visit since March 2017, in protest against the prison’s imposition of the inhumane and unnecessary practice of shackling prisoners for these visits. The prison authorities have also confiscated his academic and religious books on multiple occasions. While in prison, Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace has gone on hunger strikes to protest against the prison’s use of collective punishment, torture, and humiliating practices, as well as the general worsening prison conditions. He reports that he has still not received rubber soles for his crutches, despite the old ones wearing thin more than two years ago.

The Government of Bahrain’s treatment of Dr. AlSingace is in violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and International Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights (ICESCR), to each of which Bahrain has acceded. The CAT prohibits torture and ill treatment and requires State Parties to prevent torture as well as to investigate and punish perpetrators. However, no Bahraini officers have been held responsible for Dr. AlSingace’s torture. The ICCPR provides for the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, which the Bahraini authorities violated by targeting AlSingace and others for their political opinions and activities. The ICCPR also provides that all individuals are entitled to a fair trial, yet the Bahraini authorities convicted Dr. AlSingace in a trial and court that were in flagrant violation of these provisions. Finally, the ICESCR enumerates the right to health, under which the Bahraini authorities are required to provide for the medical care of Dr. AlSingace, particularly considering the multiple complaints and requests.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls for the immediate release of Dr. AlSingace, the vacation of his criminal record, and an investigation into his allegations of torture and ill treatment. We further call for the authorities to provide Dr. AlSingace with compensation for his arbitrary detention and suffering. We also call for the prison authorities to provide immediate and regular medical care to all prisoners and detainees within their care.