Profiles in Persecution: Ali Husain AlAali

Ali Husain AlAali is a 26-year-old Bahraini citizen. Bahraini authorities arrested him in 2017 without a warrant, tortured him during interrogation, and subjected him to an unfair trial. He is currently imprisoned in Jau Prison.

On 26 January 2017, officers from the Special Security Force Command (SSFC), along with officers from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and officers in plain clothing, raided the AlAali household. They searched throughout the apartment until they found Ali, then 23 years old, broke his bed, and arrested him, taking him out of the house in handcuffs. The officers claimed that he would be interrogated and then returned.

Following the arrest, the authorities detained Ali at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for 35 days, during which time they interrogated him without identifying any specific charges against him. The officers tortured Ali, beating him in the face, denigrating his religion, and using religious slurs, in order to make him produce confessions regarding his involvement in a WhatsApp group. At no point did the authorities permit a lawyer to be present on Ali’s behalf for these interrogations. Due to the torture, Ali confessed that he had joined the WhatsApp group, but not that he had joined any terrorist group.

After the CID officers finished interrogating Ali they transferred him to Dry Dock Detention Center. In Dry Dock, Ali observed that many members of the same WhatsApp group were also arrested and detained with him around that time. After being told that the government had charged some of them with involvement with a group they called “Bahraini Hezbollah,” Ali correctly predicted that he would be charged with the same offense.

Prior to and during his trial, Ali had limited access to his lawyer in order to prepare his defense, and at trial he was not permitted to present evidence or to challenge evidence presented by the prosecution, including his coerced confession. On 16 April 2019, the court convicted Ali, stripped him of his nationality, and sentenced him to seven years in prison for his alleged involvement with Bahraini Hezbollah, after which the authorities transferred him to Jau Prison. Ali has since appealed this sentence and, on 20 April 2019, he was one of 551 Bahrainis re-nationalized by royal order. He remains in Jau Prison.

Bahrain’s actions against Ali 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 arbitrarily arresting and detaining Ali, Bahrain has violated Ali’s freedom from arbitrary detention per the ICCPR and UDHR. By subjecting Ali to torture, Bahrain has violated his right to freedom from torture per the ICCPR, CAT, and UDHR. Further, by denying him adequate legal counsel and by using his confession procured through torture as evidence in the trial against him, Bahrain has violated Ali’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 Ali’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 Bahraini authorities to investigate Ali’s allegations of ill treatment and torture, with a view towards holding the perpetrators accountable.