Profiles in Persecution: Husain Ali Khamis

Husain Ali Khamis is a 31-year-old Bahraini citizen. Bahraini authorities arrested him in 2018 without a warrant, threatened him to coerce a confession, and subjected him to an unfair trial. He is currently imprisoned at Jau Prison.

On 23 January 2018, a combination of officers in plain clothes, National Security Agency (NSA) officers, and officers from the Special Security Force Command (SSFC) forcibly entered Husain’s house at dawn, arrested him, and seized his phone, laptops, and passport. Following his arrest, officers disappeared Husain for three days, until 26 January, when he was able to make a brief call. Husain said he was being held at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building in Adliya. The authorities then transferred Husain to a building in Jau Prison under the administration and authority of the CID, where he was detained for an additional 42 days.

The officers blindfolded Husain all 42 days he was detained in Jau Prison, and he was denied access to his lawyer, despite his requests, during his interrogations. While they interrogated Husain, CID officers made threats against him in order to coerce him into making a confession, which he eventually did.

Following his interrogations in Jau Prison, the authorities transferred Husain to Dry Dock Detention Center on 4 March 2018. The government detained Husain at Dry Dock Detention Center for an additional six months until he was presented to the Office of Public Prosecution (OPP). Husain remained in detention at Dry Dock for another four months until he appeared before a court, with occasional transfers to and from the OPP. The authorities charged Husain with joining a terrorist group, to which Husain objected on the grounds that he had not been questioned in relation to such charges. The court permitted the prosecution to use Husain’s coerced confession as evidence against him, but did not allow Husain to challenge any evidence presented against him nor present any evidence in his own defense.

On 16 April 2019, the court convicted Husain in a mass trial that was later denounced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as “fail[ing] to comply with international fair trial standards,” sentenced him to ten years in prison and a 100,000 dinar fine, and stripped him of his nationality, rendering him stateless. The authorities transferred Husain to Jau Prison following his conviction, where he remains. On 20 April 2019, he was one of 551 Bahrainis re-nationalized, but his sentence was otherwise upheld on appeal on 12 May 2019.

Bahrain’s actions against Husain violate international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain has acceded. In addition, Bahrain has contravened principles of international law laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). By arbitrarily arresting and detaining Husain, Bahrain has violated Husain’s freedom from arbitrary detention per the ICCPR and UDHR. Further, by denying him adequate legal counsel, Bahrain has violated Husain’s right to a fair trial, as enshrined in the ICCPR and UDHR.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Husain’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.