Profile in Persecution: Ahmed Jameel Abdulla

Ahmed Jameel Abdulla was a 23-year-old employee at the Fun City game store when he was arbitrarily arrested by the Bahraini authorities on 3 November 2019. During his detention, he was subjected to several human rights violations. Ahmed is currently detained at the Dry Dock Detention Center, and he will soon be transferred to Jau Prison.

At dawn on 3 November 2019, armed special forces, masked officers in civilian clothes, as well as officers from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) stormed the farm where Ahmed was present, without presenting any arrest warrant. Then, they confiscated the identity cards of all the individuals that were present in the farm and took Ahmed to an unknown location after identifying him, where they asked Ahmed in the car about terrorist actions, which he denied having any relation with. Even though they told him that they knew he is not involved in terrorism, they asked him about what he was doing years ago and what he is planning on doing in the future. They yelled at Ahmed and threatened him to confess to the charges that they asked about, but he refused to do so.

After refusing to confess, Ahmed was transferred to another unknown location, which turned out to be the investigations building in Jau Prison, Building 15, where he was interrogated. On the same day, at around 8:30 a.m., he was able to make a short call to his family to inform them that he was present in the investigations building of Jau Prison, and he asked them to bring him clothes. He also told them that he had been beaten.

During the interrogation, Ahmed was physically and psychologically tortured by officials from the investigations department of Jau Prison for four days. He was beaten, stripped naked, sexually harassed, and threatened with rape while naked. His face became swollen due to the beating he endured directed at his face. Ahmed was unable to deny the charges against him, as whenever he tried to do so, officers raised the level of torture in order to force him to confess. Ahmed collapsed completely and was therefore forced to confess and sign the documents that he was asked to sign. He was also threatened with more torture in case he denied what he had confessed in the interrogations. The injuries on his face were not treated. Instead, he was placed in solitary confinement at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) in Adliya for about 10 days, so that the effects of torture would disappear before he was examined in order for there to be no evidence or medical records proving torture in interrogation or prisons.

Ahmed’s lawyer was unable to attend the interrogation, Ahmed was unable to meet anyone, and he was only able to contact one of his parents by phone intermittently for only a few seconds. After solitary confinement at the CID, Ahmed was brought before the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), where he denied the confessions that he was coerced into giving and denied the charges against him before a prosecutor. Then, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center, 20 days after his arrest. Two days after his transfer to the Dry Dock Detention Center, he was able to meet his parents for the first time, and he was able to contact his lawyer later.

Ahmed was not brought promptly before a judge, and he did not have adequate time and facilities to prepare for the trial. His confessions were also used against him in the trial, even though evidence was presented and Ahmed even told the judge that the confessions were produced under torture. However, the court did not take this statement into account, as the judgment was issued based on the confessions that were withdrawn from him under torture and duress. Among the evidence presented during the trial is Ahmed’s bank account statement since the account was established, which does not show that he received any money from any party, while he was accused of receiving money from outside groups and depositing them in his bank account. Also, it appeared from the witness’s words in court that he does not know anything and has not seen any of the charges that Ahmed was accused of. Ahmed also sent a letter to the judge on 18 July 2020, through which he explains the torture he was subjected to in order to force him to confess, but nothing happened. Consequently, Ahmed was convicted of: 1) Joining a terrorist group, and 2) receiving money and explosives, storing them and using them in terrorist acts. On 3 November 2020, in a mass trial that involved 51 other individuals which was in clear violation of the right to a fair trial, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, in addition to the imposition of a fine of 100,000 Bahraini Dinars. Ahmed appealed his sentences, and the first session for the review of his appeal is set on 20 December 2020.

While detained at the Dry Dock Detention Center, Ahmed was treated in a discriminatory way based on his Shia sect, as well as for political reasons, by turning off the air conditioners on him and other inmates in the summer, and when they asked for air conditioning, Ahmed and his colleagues were attacked by being pepper sprayed. Moreover, Scabies and itching were spread amongst prisoners in the Dry Dock Detention Center. As a result, Ahmed was infected, and he did not receive the necessary medical treatment.

Ahmed’s warrantless arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, denial of medical treatment, unfair trial, religious discrimination, and detention within unhealthy conditions 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 Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Since an arrest warrant was not presented and given that Ahmed’s conviction depended on forced false confessions, we can conclude that Ahmed 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 Ahmed’s appeal. ADHRB also urges Bahrain to provide Ahmed with the necessary medical treatment for Scabies, itches, and for the injuries that resulted from torture, in addition to ending the discriminatory treatment against him based on his religious sect. It also demands that Ahmed obtain his right to a fair trial and to stop unfair mass trials.