Profiles in Persecution: Isa Jaafar AlAbd

Isa Jaafar AlAbd is a 24-year-old Bahraini and former employee of the K & K Food Company. He has been arrested multiple times, beaten by authorities, and denied medical care during detention. Isa has suffered from a heart condition since birth and has undergone numerous surgeries as a result, and his condition has worsened during his detention. He is currently awaiting trial for his most recent charges and is detained in Dry Dock Detention Center.

Isa was arrested for the first time on 3 September 2016 during a demonstration. He was convicted on charges of illegal assembly and sentenced to one-year imprisonment. He was released after serving six months of his sentence. A few months after being released from prison he was again arrested, without a warrant and without being informed of any charges against him, on 14 December 2018 from Bahrain International Airport at around noon. Isa was about to go on a trip before he was scheduled to undergo his next heart surgery.

At the airport, officials told Isa that there were papers missing from his passport and asked him to come to the office to complete some procedures. At the office, officers detained Isa, and plain clothed officers in a civilian vehicle took him to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). He was held incommunicado until 3:00am, when officers permitted him to make a phone call. He was not allowed to contact anyone for a week following.

While at the CID, officers blindfolded, handcuffed, and threatened Isa during interrogation from midnight to at least 3:00am, mocking his heart disease and attempting to force a confession. Officers also beat him and threatened to hang him or use electric shock. Officers continued to beat him until they confirmed he actually had undergone heart operations. Although Isa denied the charges brought against him, due to the beatings and threats against his life he signed a confession, although it is unclear if that confession will be used once a trial begins. Isa was not allowed to have a lawyer present during the interrogation.

Despite it being clear to officers that Isa had a heart condition, he received no medical care during the first six months of imprisonment. He was finally taken to a doctor upon the deterioration of his health on 16 July 2019. His most recent surgery before his arrest was on 30 July 2018, but the operation failed, and his condition returned. His follow up surgery has not been able to be completed due to his arrest, and Isa’s health condition is currently being monitored at the Salmaniya Medical Complex.

Over the ten months that Isa has been detained he has been charged with assisting in publishing political pamphlets, delivering money to sites where illegal assemblies are held, and illegal assembly, among other unknown charges. The Office of Public Prosecution keeps renewing his detention period by 15 or 30 days. Additionally, the acts he is being charged with supposedly occurred during early 2017, but Isa underwent two cardiac catheterizations and an open-heart surgery that year, effectively incapacitating him. This evidence has been ignored by the Public Prosecution’s.

The Government of Bahrain’s treatment of Isa is in violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Articles 2 and 11 of the CAT prohibit torture and ill-treatment, which Isa experienced at the CID, and require State Parties to prevent torture as well as to investigate and punish its perpetrators. Additionally, if Isa’s coerced confession is used at trial, this would violate Article 15 of the CAT. Furthermore, Article 14 of the ICCPR provides that all individuals are entitled to a fair trial, yet the Bahraini authorities have not allowed Isa to promptly see a judge and have prolonged his imprisonment, despite there being no evidence of the charges brought against him. Additionally, Article 12 of the ICESCR ensures the right to a high standard of physical health and the provision of medical service and medical attention, which officers denied Isa for six months.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by releasing Isa in light of his medical condition and the lack of evidence regarding the charges. We further call on the Bahraini authorities to investigate Isa’s allegations of ill-treatment and torture at the CID and Dry Dock Detention Center, with a view towards holding the perpetrators accountable. We also call on the authorities to ensure appropriate medical care is provided for all prisoners.

*Editors Note: This post was edited on 8 October 2019 to correct minor errors.