Profiles in Persecution: Qasim Ahmed AlMalki

Qasim Ahmed AlMalki was a 23-year-old business administration student at Bahrain University at the time of his arrest in March 2017. Since his arrest, the Bahraini authorities have subjected him to torture and denied him access to an attorney. He currently remains in Jau Prison.

On 13 March 2017, masked officers from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) forcibly entered and raided Qasim’s home while he was away. The officers did not present a warrant or mention the reason for their search. Once they realized Qasim’s absence, they questioned the homeowner on Qasim’s whereabouts. When they realized the homeowner would not disclose Qasim’s location, they then raided a family member’s home that morning; they found and arrested Qasim without a warrant or an explanation.

Later that day, the authorities took him to the office of Public Prosecution (OPP) for interrogation. During his interrogation, Qasim alleges that the prison officers tortured him by subjecting him to extensive beatings and ill-treatment and denigrated his religion in order to extract information. The officers constantly threatened that if Qasim did not confess to his crimes, his torture would become unbearable. Consequently, Qasim confessed to joining a terrorist cell, attending a religious seminar in Iran, and assisting with the creation of the so-called “Bahraini Hezbollah.”Additionally, the officers forced him to sign pre-written confessions that were later used against him in trial. During such interrogations, the officers did not allow Qasim to meet or speak with his legal counsel. When they did allow him legal representation it was during his court hearing for a limited time.

After two months, the authorities transferred Qasim to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he was held for more than a year. On 18 April 2018, the court admitted his forced confessions as evidence against him, and sentenced Qasim to 17 years’ imprisonment. He is currently in Jau Prison.

Bahrain’s actions against Qasim 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 not promptly informing him of his charges at the time of his arrest, and compelling him to testify against himself during acts of torture. By denying him legal counsel, Bahrain has violated Qasim’s right to a fair trial, as enshrined in the ICCPR and UDHR. Further, by subjecting him to ill treatment, Bahrain has violated Qasim’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 Qasim’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 allegations of ill-treatment and torture, and to hold officials accountable.