Ahmed Hasan Kadhem is a 27-year-old Bahraini citizen. Since his arbitrary arrest in 2015, and subsequent detention in 2016, Bahraini authorities have subjected Ahmed to torture, ill-treatment, and an unfair trial. He is currently in Jau Prison.
On 14 June 2015, officers from the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) arrested Ahmed from his house without a warrant. The officers then transferred Ahmed to the CID, where he was detained for two days. During his detention, the officers beat, kicked, and slapped Ahmed in the face repeatedly until he confessed to his crimes. They also threatened that if he did not confess they would subject him to electric shock. After the second day at the CID, officers transferred Ahmed to Dry Dock Detention Center where he was detained for six months on charges of arson, vandalism, participating in an illegal assembly, and manufacturing and possessing Molotov cocktails. At Dry Dock, Ahmed was subjected to ill-treatment, including restrictions on his phone calls and visitation privileges. When Ahmed did have access to see his family they were only allowed 30 minutes together, and there was a barrier separating them.
On 20 October 2015, Ahmed was released on bail for 200 Bahraini Dinars pending continuation of his trial. On 26 April 2016, the Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced Ahmed to five years’ imprisonment, which later was reduced to three years on appeal on 19 February 2019. Ahmed was not present in the court during his sentencing, but his attorney informed him of the judgment. Following news of his sentence, Ahmed went into hiding.
After the April 2016 sentencing, Ahmed’s home was regularly raided by security forces in search of him. On 29 July 2017, officers in civilian clothing linked to the CID and Special Security Force Command (SSFC) raided the house while Ahmed was present and arrested him, transferring him to the CID. At the CID, he was able to call his family for a few minutes to let them know his location. After two days, the officers informed Ahmed that they arrested him to serve his sentence and transferred him to Jau Prison.
On 29 August 2018, Ahmed was brought to the Office of Public Prosecution without a lawyer and interrogated regarding his alleged affiliation with a group the authorities called the “Bahraini Hezbollah.” The same day, the officers charged him with being a member of this group, which Ahmed learned of after the trial began and he saw his name listed among the defendants. Ahmed denied all these charges, but did not have adequate time to prepare a defense with his attorney because the trial had already begun. During the trial, the officers denied Ahmed access to the court by forcing him to remain on the bus during the entire proceeding. On 16 April 2019, the Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced Ahmed to seven years’ imprisonment and stripped him of his nationality on the charge of membership in the Bahraini Hezbollah. On 21 April 2019, Ahmed was one of the 551 individuals who were renationalized by a royal order. On 30 June 2019, his seven-year sentence was upheld on appeal.
Bahrain’s actions against Ahmed violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is a party to. Ahmed’s arrest and detention without a warrant infringed on his right to liberty and security that is protected under Article 9 of the ICCPR. Ahmed’s conviction, in light of his coerced confession obtained through torture, was the product of an unfair trial per Article 14 of the ICCPR, which entitles everyone to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal,and Article 15 of CAT, which ensures that any statement established as a result of torture be revoked as evidence in any proceedings.
Similarly, the outright denial or obstruction of access to legal counsel described by Ahmed is in violation of the Bahraini Constitution, which provides for a number of basic fair trial provisions, including that individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial and that everyone is entitled to legal counsel to prepare a defense. Additionally, the Bahraini Penal Code provides that arrested individuals have the right to seek legal counsel, that accused individuals and their lawyers are permitted to attend all investigation proceedings, and that each accused individual is entitled to a lawyer at each hearing.
Finally, the prison administration’s refusal to grant Ahmed family visits and phone calls are against Article 36 of Bahrain’s prison regulations, which grants inmates an opportunity to meet with their family twice a month. According to Bahrain’s prison regulations, phone calls and family visits are revoked only as a disciplinary sanction or by judicial order. Here, this regulation does not apply because Ahmed did not receive any such disciplinary sanction or judicial order.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Ahmed’s conviction in light of the forced confession and unfair trial, and ensuring that any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill-treatment by prison officials and to hold those officials accountable.
*Editor’s note: This piece was edited on 5 August 2019 to correct a minor error in the date of appellate proceedings.