Profiles in Persecution: Hasan Abdulghani Farhan

Born in 1993, Hasan Abdulghani Farhan was a footballer with the “Sitra” club. At the age of 19, during his second year of secondary school, he was arbitrarily detained and denied of his human rights by Bahraini authorities. At the time of publishing, Hasan has been in Jau Prison for approximately seven years.

On 11 December 2012, Hasan was staying at a family member’s apartment when authorities located and surrounded the building with a helicopter, riot police cars, and masked officers in civilian clothing. Despite having no warrant, officers raided the apartment and Hasan was beaten up and arrested. Hasan was wanted on charges of arson, and a summon was sent to his home the day of the arrest.

Following his arrest, Hasan was taken to an unknown location. Here, he was beaten and forced to dig for weapons and explosives. Hasan was subjected to enforced disappearance for the four days that followed; during this time he was tortured at the Central Investigations Directorate (CID). Torture included beating to multiple parts of his body, prolonged forced standing in an extremely cold room when blindfolded and handcuffed from behind, and sexual harrassment, including threats of rape.

Torture was used to extract a coerced confession; Hasan signed a statement of guilt while blindfolded. Although Hasan spoke told the judge presiding over his trial about his torture, the confession was still relied upon in his trial.

Between 2013 and 2017, Hasan was found guilty in three separate cases, and sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison. The cases were: 1) Arson in a street, assembly and rioting, 2) Arson of Sitra police station and attempted murder of an officer, as well as possession and acquisition of Molotov bottles, and 3) Assaulting a public employee. Throughout the investigation and trial for these cases, Hasan was denied access to his attorney and was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for the trial.

Since his imprisonment, Hasan has fallen victim to various human rights violations, including medical negligence as well as physical and psychological torture, which intensified following the 2014 Jau Prison unrest. Over the period of his imprisonment, Hasan developed a number of medical conditions, namely, high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and weak eyesight. He was subjected to medical negligence as he did not receive adequate medical care for these conditions. Moreover, when he broke a finger in 2013, he was denied treatment. As a result, Hasan’s finger is now deformed.

In 2014, Hasan was subjected to multiple beatings by riot police wielding batons. In August 2015, Hasan was placed in solitary confinement. Additionally, his personal possessions, including clothing and toiletries were confiscated. During this time, a Mr Baker Al-Alawi repeatedly threatened that he would violently raid his father’s house if he did not confess to allegations. Further, he was beaten by officers under the command of and his beard and head were shaved as a form of humiliation.

Between 2018 and 2019, Hasan’s family submitted multiple complaints to the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman and the Special Investigations Unit, concerning the torture Hasan endured. The cases were denied.

Most recently, a complaint was filed on 7 January 2019, regarding  instances of torture that occured on 17 December 2018. However, no redress was issued, with authorities dismissing complaints under the guise of a lack of evidence. This is despite the availability of surveillance footage.

Hasan’s arrest, unfair trial, torture, and denial of adequate medical care violate both the Bahraini constitution as well as international obligations to which Bahrain is party. Namely, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Since an arrest warrant was not presented, and given that Hasan was not granted a fair trial, we can conclude that Hasan was arbitrarily detained by Bahraini authorities.

Accordingly, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by voiding the judgement against Hasan. If serious criminal charges can be held against him, authorities must conduct a fair trial which conforms to universal judicial standards. ADHRB urges Bahrain to investigate all torture allegations, to ensure accountability, and that all prisoners be provided with adequate medical care.