Profiles in Persecution: Jasim Ahmed Dharab

Jasim Ahmed Dharab is a 21-year-old Bahraini University student. He was arrested and tortured by Bahraini authorities and subjected to an unfair trial. Jasim was one of 14 individuals tried in the “February 14 Coalition” case, referring to a largely informal online group which the Bahraini government has designated a terrorist organization. He is currently being held at New Dry Dock, the section of Jau Prison reserved for individuals under the age of 21.

Jasim was originally arrested on 25 January 2015 and charged with two counts of illegal assembly and rioting. He was acquitted on one of the illegal assembly charges and sentenced to four months for the second, which he served. After he was released, he was convicted in absentia in 2017 on another charge of rioting.

On 26 February 2018, riot police officers and other officers in civilian clothing arrested Jasim at the house of a friend’s relative, along with two other individuals. The officers arrested them without a warrant and did not give a reason for their arrest. According to reports, National Security Agency (NSA) vehicles were also present at the scene.

Officers took Jasim to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where they disappeared him for nearly ten days and interrogated him for two weeks, during which time they tortured him and subjected him to ill treatment. He was then presented to the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP) on 6 March 2018 and charged with multiple crimes, after which he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center.

Jasim was charged in the “February 14 Coalition” case with joining a group or organization whose purpose is to disrupt the law or the violation of rights and freedom, manufacturing and possessing usable or explosive containers (i.e. incendiary bottles), and illegal assembly to commit crimes and breach security, among other charges. In addition, Jasim was later charged with harboring a fugitive, arson and detonating a car, and two additional counts of illegal assembly.

Jasim was not represented by a lawyer in some of the cases against him. In the cases where he had a lawyer he was denied access to her, did not have adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trial, and was not able to present evidence or challenge the evidence against him in court. Additionally, this lawyer did not attend his interrogation sessions and Jasim was not promptly brought before a judge. Jasim was prevented from attending most of the trial sessions. Despite being present in the courthouse and prevented by the authorities from entering the court, the record falsely states that Jasim “refused” to attend his court sessions.

On 27 December 2018, Jasim was sentenced to seven years in prison and the revocation of his citizenship in the “February 14 Coalition” case, though he was one of 551 individuals whose citizenship was reinstated on 20 April 2019. On 30 December 2018 he was sentenced to an additional three years for harboring a fugitive. Overall, Jasim has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison, reduced to 17 years on appeal. His sentence in the February 14 Coalition case was upheld on 12 May 2019.

Jasim is currently being held in solitary confinement, where he has been for six months. He reports that he is only allowed to use the toilet once a day at a specific time and is held in a room without air-conditioning.

Bahrain’s actions against Jasim violate international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), both of which Bahrain has acceded to. In addition, Bahrain has contravened principles of international law laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). By preventing him from attending court sessions and denying him legal counsel, Bahrain has violated Jasim’s right to a fair trial, as enshrined in the ICCPR and UDHR. Further, by subjecting him to ill treatment and particularly holding him in solitary confinement for six months, Bahrain has violated Jasim’s right to freedom from torture, in the ICCPR, CAT, and UDHR.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Jasim’s conviction, releasing him from arbitrary detention in accordance with international law, and if serious criminal charges can be maintained against him, ensuring any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights.  We further call on the authorities to investigate his allegations of ill treatment and torture, and to immediately suspend the use of solitary confinement in such an arbitrary and punitive nature, in violation of international legal standards.