Profiles in Persecution: Husain AbdulAziz Mohamed

Husain AbdulAziz Mohamed was 20 years old at the time of his arrest in Bahrain in 2015. Since then, the Bahraini authorities have subjected him to torture and failed to provide him with adequate eye surgery for the deterioration of his vision. He currently remains in Jau Prison.

On 17 April 2015, officers in civilian clothing arrested Husain in front of his home in Buri. The officers beat him and pulled him into a police car without a warrant or any explanation for his arrest. They disappeared Husain, holding him at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and subjecting him to torture to produce a confession. After the second or third day, Husain was able to call his parents, informed them of his location, and requested they bring clean clothing for him. Authorities then transferred Husain to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he was held pending his trial. On 20 May 2015, Husain was transferred to the Office of Public Prosecution, where Bahraini officials forced him to repeat his confession.

Husain was convicted of illegal assembly and burning tires on 20 September 2015 and sentenced to ten years in prison, later reduced to five years on appeal. Husain was initially held in New Dry Dock, the section of Jau Prison reserved for individuals under the age of 21. After his 21st birthday, Husain was transferred to the general population in Jau.

Before his imprisonment, Husain was uniocular; he lost his left eye in a childhood accident. While in prison, Husain sustained a retinal detachment in his remaining eye. Sometime in early 2018, the Bahrain Defense Force hospital recommended for transfer to Salmaniya Medical Complex for specialist care regarding his eye. However, the prison did not arrange this transfer until 26 April 2018. Upon his arrival, the nurse at Salmaniya informed Husain that he should have been transferred there immediately for his condition and that he may have arrived too late.

Three days later, Husain underwent surgery to address the retinal detachment. Following the first surgery his vision improved slightly and the doctor prescribed eye drops to assist with the repairing of his vision. They scheduled a second surgery three months later; however, the operation did not occur. During this time, Husain ran out of his eye drops and prison authorities did not replace them. Multiple complaints were submitted about Husain’s lack of medical care to the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman, most recently on 20 December 2018, but Husain received no further treatment despite the Ombudsman’s affirmative responses. As recently as 7 May 2019, Husain has reported that his vision continues to deteriorate and the prison authorities have not scheduled his surgery. Husain is now considered legally blind. The authorities have also not made any accommodations for Husain’s new disability in the prison.

Bahrain’s actions against Husain Mohamad violate international law. Husain’s arrest and detention without a warrant infringe on his right to his liberty and security that is protected under Article 9 of the International Covenant and Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain is a party. Additionally, Husain’s conviction, in light of the coerced confession obtained through torture, created an unfair trial under Article 14 of the ICCPR. The torture endured by Husain is also in violation of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading treatment or Punishment (CAT), to which Bahrain is a party. Subsequently, under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), each person has a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health under Article 12.  Bahraini officers violated this Covenant by depriving Husain the medical procedure needed to correct his vision. This interference caused Husain to suffer from blindness, therefore, Bahrain is required under the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities to provide reasonable accommodations in the prison for Husain’s disability.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Husain’s conviction in light of his unfair trial, conducting any future trial against him in accordance with international law and standards, investigating claims of torture and ill-treatment by prison officials with a view to hold those officials accountable, and to keep Husain’s family informed on the status of his complaints.