Profile in Persecution: Ali Jaafar AlBasri

25-year-old Ali Jaafar AlBasri was a security personnel at a private security company in Bahrain when he was arbitrarily arrested by the Bahraini authorities on 6 November 2019. During his detention, he was subjected to several human rights violations. Ali is currently detained at the Dry Dock Detention Center.

At 3:00 a.m. on 6 November 2019, Police officers and officers from the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) forcibly entered Ali’s home without presenting any arrest warrant. They harassed his family members and asked them about Ali’s whereabouts, which they were not aware of since he was at his friend’s house at the time. Officers proceeded to go over to the house of Ali’s friend, where they arrested Ali after hitting him with a police car, thereby breaking his leg. The next day after his arrest, authorities confiscated Ali’s car, and they have yet to return it.

Ali was then transferred to the CID building before being transferred to the interrogation center at Building 15 of Jau Prison on the same day, where he was interrogated. During the interrogation, Ali was tortured by the interrogation CID officers for 15 days while blindfolded, handcuffed, and leg cuffed. He was beaten, electrocuted, and stripped of his clothes, and cold water was poured on him. He also suffered psychological torture and threats. Ali suffered all these torture methods in order to extract a forced confession to preselected charges, and in case he refused to confess officers would inflict more torture on him. Ali was not able to resist the torture, and therefore he gave a forced false confession. During this period, authorities suggested a deal that would free him from prison if he accepts to go with them to arrest people that he knows, but he refused the deal.

Ali was subjected to enforced disappearance throughout the 15-day interrogation, and he was unable to meet or call anyone. His lawyer was also prohibited from attending the interrogations. Ali’s family was not aware of his whereabouts. They adamantly asked for his whereabouts at police stations and at the CID every day for the first week of his arrest and would only be told to wait for a call from him.

After confessing, he was taken to a medical examiner to be checked for his broken leg. He was then beaten and coerced into saying that his injury is the result of falling from the second floor. The doctor then applied a splint to his leg. Afterwards, he was brought before the Office of the Public Prosecution, before being transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center.

After being transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center, Ali was able to call his family for the first time since his arrest, telling them that they will be allowed to visit him a week after at the Dry Dock Detention Center, without disclosing his location during that call. Ali’s family reports that officers could be heard telling him exactly what to say during that call.

Ali was not brought promptly before a judge. He was also denied access to his attorney, and he did not have adequate time and facilities to prepare for the trial. He was not able to present evidence and challenge evidence presented against him, and his confession was also used against him in the trial. Consequently, Ali was convicted of: 1) Joining a terrorist cell in order to “disrupt the provisions of the Constitution and laws, prevent the State institutions and authorities from fulfilling their purpose, and harm national unity”, 2) Collecting, delivering and receiving money as well as fireworks from the terrorist cell in order to use them in terrorist activities by detonating them in locations around the country, 3) Providing members of the terrorist cell with weapons, ammunition, fireworks as well as money and shelter in order to “spread chaos , create tensions, weaken State power, and overthrow it”, and 4) Training for the use of weapons and fireworks at the hands of Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Katai’b Hezbollah in Iraq in order to commit terrorist crimes.

On 3 November 2020, Ali was sentenced to 15 years in prison, in addition to a fine of 100,000 Dinar. Ali appealed his sentence, and the court set the date of the first appeal session on 22 December 2020.

After the conviction, Ali’s mental state has deteriorated since he knew that his wife applied for divorce because of the lengthy sentence. He requested to be taken to the psychiatry department or to the hospital to get help, but his request was refused, and he still has not received help.

On 12 November 2020, Ali was reciting the Ziyarat Ashoura, a Dua which is common among Shia, to alleviate his depression when police officers came and asked him to stop. When he refused, he was transferred to solitary confinement, and he was banned from contacting his family since the incident till 16 November. As a result of this punishment, Ali’s family plans to submit a complaint at the Ombudsman and the National Institution for Human Rights.

Ali’s arrest, enforced disappearance, confiscation of his car, torture, denial of psychological treatment, denial of his right to contact his family and friends, and denial of practicing his religious rituals 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 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), 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 Ali’s conviction depended on false forced confessions, we can conclude that Ali is arbitrarily detained by Bahraini authorities.

Accordingly, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by investigating all torture allegations to ensure accountability, and by taking a fair decision regarding Ali’s appeal. ADHRB also urges Bahrain to return Ali’s car to his family, to provide Ali with the necessary medical and psychological treatment, to end the discriminatory treatment against him based on his religious sect, and to provide him with the opportunity to contact his family and friends.