Profiles in Persecution: Ahmed Mohamed Abdulla

Ahmed was a 22-year-old recent graduate who was looking for a job when he was arrested in 2015 without a warrant. Ahmed was subjected to enforced disappearance, interrogated without a lawyer, tortured, and convicted in an unfair trial. He has been the victim of many human rights violations, and his confession has been broadcasted on TV. Today he remains in the Jau Central Prison where authorities have denied him access to healthcare.

On 8 May 2015, while he was sitting near his house with his friends, police forces and armed individuals in civilian clothing arrived in five cars and police jeeps, surrounded the place, aimed their weapons at Ahmed, and then arrested him. Ahmed’s house had already previously been raided and searched several times by civilian and armed forces, and they had tried to arrest him without presenting any warrant. Ahmed’s warrantless arrest was filmed with a video camera. After the arrest, Ahmed’s family received a call informing them that their son was at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID); the call was then disconnected.

Following his arrest, Ahmed was subjected to enforced disappearance for an entire month and to different methods of torture in order to extract a confession for the charges brought against him. On 7 June 2015, Ahmed was seen for the first time since his disappearance, as the official Bahraini television channel broadcasted photos of him and other defendants involved in the case of the murder of the Jordanian official. They also broadcasted their confessions. After the interrogation, Ahmed was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. After the court issued the first judgement against him, he was once again subjected to torture while he was being transferred from Dry Dock Detention Center to Jau prison, where he remains today.

While at the CID, Ahmed was subjected to torture and was beaten all over his body and face. Other methods of torture were also used, but Ahmed did not mention them to his family for fear of hurting their feelings. However, Ahmed’s parents saw bruises and marks on their son’s body and face every time they visited him in prison, and thus presumed that he was tortured. Ahmed was only allowed to see his parents months after his arrest.

Ahmed did not have adequate time nor resources to prepare for his trial. Furthermore, Ahmed was not brought promptly before a judge within 48 hours of his arrest; instead, he was brought before a judge many months after his arrest. Ahmed was denied access to his attorney, who was not allowed to attend the interrogation. In addition, Ahmed was not able to present evidence nor challenge evidence presented against him.

Ahmed was convicted by the High Criminal Court: 1) On 13 October 2015, for the possession of a weapon, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with a fine of 500 Dinars; 2) On 31 December 2015, for the killing of a Jordanian officer, and was sentenced to life imprisonment and was stripped of his citizenship; 3) On 27 April 2016, for his involvement in an explosion in the Shakhurah region and was sentenced to life imprisonment; and 4) On 30 May 2016, for his involvement with the Saraya Al-Ashtar Brigades and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In a fifth case, the Lower Criminal Court sentenced Ahmed to 1 year in prison for illegal assembly.

On 29 March 2017, Ahmed’s life sentence for his alleged involvement with the Saraya Al-Ashtar Brigades was reduced on appeal to 15 years in prison. However, Ahmed’s appeals on 14 April 2016 for his alleged possession of a weapon, on 23 November 2016 for his alleged involvement in the Shakhurah region explosion, and on 12 May 2019 for his alleged killing of a Jordanian officer, were all upheld. In April 2019, Ahmed’s citizenship was reinstated through a royal pardon.

Some time after being transferred to Jau Prison, Ahmed developed a fungus allergy, for which he was denied medical treatment. His condition worsened and reached an advanced stage until it spread all over his body; only then was he transferred to the hospital, where a cream was prescribed to him to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Shortly before his arrest, glands developed on Ahmed’s chest; he continues to suffer from this and needs urgent treatment. Jau prison authorities continued to deny Ahmed treatment for five years despite multiple requests for medical appointments. Ahmed’s family have reported that they are worried and afraid that these glands on his chest might have become cancerous because of the administration’s refusal to give Ahmed adequate treatment. After being examined at the hospital, the doctor requested surgery to remove the glands, but the prison administration refrains from informing Ahmed or his family about the date of the appointment and when he will be transferred to the hospital. Ahmed’s family filed complaints with the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) Ombudsman and the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) regarding the lack of prison visits and subsequent denial of medical care. The responses of both mechanisms were not effective in giving him treatment.

Ahmed’s treatment is a violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), conventions to which Bahrain is a signatory. Ahmed did not have the right to communicate with his lawyer during his interrogation, his arrest was warrantless, he was tortured and subjected to enforced disappearance, and he was not presented promptly before a judicial authority. Moreover, Ahmed’s conviction, in light of forced confessions made by others, was the product of an unfair trial. For the aforementioned reasons, Ahmed’s arrest, interrogation, and trials are in violation of Articles 7, 9, 10, 14, 17 of the ICCPR. The denial of necessary medical care is in violation of Article 12 of the ICESCR, which provides for the right to health, and the torture Ahmed was subjected to from the day of his arrest and until his arrival to Jau prison is a significant violation of the CAT.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the government of Bahrain to release Ahmed. If any charges can be brought against him, ADHRB calls for a retrial to be conducted in accordance with international standards of fair trials. ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to investigate Ahmed’s allegations of torture, with a view of holding perpetrators accountable. Additionally, ADHRB urges authorities to provide Ahmed with adequate medical treatment for his deteriorating conditions.