Profiles in Persecution: Hasan Ali Serhan

Hasan was 22-year-old when he was arrested without a warrant in 2012 and prevented from completing his education. Hasan was forcibly disappeared, interrogated without a lawyer, tortured, and convicted in an unfair trial. Today, he remains in the Jau Central Prison where authorities have denied him access to medical treatment.

On 10 April 2012, Hasan’s village and house were surrounded by police patrols. Hasan’s house was raided and thoroughly searched. He was arrested, blindfolded, and handcuffed in his room where he had been sleeping. Hasan knew that he was wanted by the authorities because the police who raided the houses of the individuals accused alongside were arrested and questioned about Hasan’s whereabouts; however, Hasan did not know what the charges against him were.

Following his arrest, Hasan was forcibly disappeared for two weeks. During this period, he was held at the   Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). On 13 April 2012, Hasan appeared in a video on YouTube, where he was taken by Bahraini forces to a cemetery. There he was filmed while acting out the crime he was accused of; among the forces present was the official from Interpol “AbdulRasoul Khamis”. Hasan spent approximately seven days at the CID, where he was told upon his arrival that he will be sentenced to 15 years in prison, and they only need his confession. He was then transferred to the Office of the Public Prosecution Office (OPP) where officers threatened him to confess. He was taken back to the CID, where he remained for another two to three days. After the interrogation, Hasan was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention center. Finally, he was transferred to the building 14 of Jau prison, where he remains today.

While at the CID, Hasan was subjected to several forms of torture. He was severely beaten, endured electric shocks, was forced to stand for long durations, and also forced to sign statements while he was blindfolded. Additionally, Hasan endured psychological torture as he was threatened that his  family members would be assaulted. He saw his parents for the first time two weeks after his arrest; at present, family visits have been replaced by a video call, once a month, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Hasan did not have adequate time nor facilities to prepare for his trial. Furthermore, He was not brought promptly before a judge within 48 hours after his arrest. Hasan was denied access to his attorney who was not allowed to attend the interrogation at the OPP and CID, and could not meet with Hasan throughout the trial. Hasan had presented evidence to support his defense, but they were not taken into consideration.

In 2012, Hasan was convicted, based on the false confessions he made, of the detonation of a bomb in Al-Eker village and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2013, he was also convicted of the arsoning six-wheel trucks and was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, the court of appeal reduced Hasan’s second sentence to five years in prison. Thus, he is serving a 20 year prison sentence.

Before his arrest, Hasan was suffering from a degenerative disk disease. His condition worsened and reached an advanced stage due to the torture. Then, in Jau prison he was denied medical treatment, and doctors settled on giving him sedative needles from time to time. Hasan was not transferred to the hospital until the first sentence was issued. In December 2013, he was denied temporary release to join his father and uncle’s funeral ceremony. In 2014, Hasan’s family filed a complaint with the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) Ombudsman requesting that the prison administration provide Hasan with medical care. The response of the mechanism was not effective in providing him treatment. In 2016, Hasan participated in a hunger strike protesting the prison administration’s medical negligence of his condition. After several hunger strikes, requests to meet the prison director, and complaints to the Ombudsman office, Hasan obtained approval to undergo surgery to treat his disk problem. However, he still suffers from the condition due to the administration’s mistreatment of prisoners.

On 16 June 2020, Hasan filed a complaint to the Ombudsman office because the duvets that help him with his disk problem, as prescribed by the doctor, were confiscated by the prison administration and regarding the harassment the prisoners are facing in Building 14, including the following:

1) Whenever the prisoners are taken to the clinic, they face insults, and officers tie their hands from the back so severely that they end up needing treatment for their hands for the injuries sustained; 2) They have been subjected to beatings in Building 14 at the hands of the prison director himself “Hisham Al-Zayani”; 3) They are deprived from leaving their cells, they only have one hour to stay outside in the sun, and the remaining 23 hours are spent in their cells; 4) Many of the prisoners are being transferred to solitary confinement where they are beaten by the director himself and are threatened if they complain to their family or any entity.

Most recently, in July 2020, Hasan went on a strike with other inmates in Buildings 13 and 14 of Jau prison during which they stopped contacting their families due to the restrictions put by the prison administration. Currently Hassan is not taken to medical examinations due to the Coronavirus.

Hasan’s treatment is a violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligation 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. Hasan did not have the right to communicate with his lawyer during his interrogation, his arrest was warrantless, he was tortured and forcibly disappeared, and he was not presented promptly before a judicial authority. Hasan’s conviction, in light of forced confessions, was the product of an unfair trial.   For the aforementioned reasons, Hasan’s arrest, interrogation, and trials are in violation of Articles 7, 9, 10, 14, and 17 of the ICCPR. The denial of necessary medical care is in violation of Article 12 of the ICESCR, which guarantees the right to health. Additionally, the torture Hasan has been 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 Hasan. 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 Hasan’s allegations of torture, with a view of holding perpetrators accountable. Additionally, ADHRB urges authorities to provide Hasan with adequate medical treatment for his deteriorating conditions.