Profile in Persecution: Mohamed AbdulHadi AlBaqali

Mohamed AbdulHadi AlBaqali was a 23-year-old Medical Laboratory Technician at a private laboratory when he was arbitrarily arrested by Bahraini authorities on 6 November 2019. During his detention, he was subjected to several human rights violations. Mohamed is currently detained in Jau Prison.

At 2 a.m. on 6 November 2019, officers in military clothing, riot police officers, Commandos officers, army personnel, and mask plain clothed officers entered the home of Mohamed’s family after ringing the doorbell. Then, they searched the home without presenting any arrest warrant, but Mohamed was not there at that moment. They waited for him outside the home and arrested him near it once he arrived. Then, they entered the home, gave the keys of Mohamed’s car to his family, and searched his room again.

One day after his arrest, Mohamed was able to make a short call with his family for less than a minute, only telling them that he is at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). Two days after Mohamed’s arrest, officers came back to his family’s house and searched his room all over again. Three days after the arrest, the Ministry of Interior issued an announcement on social media declaring the arrest of a group intending to carry out actions that harm the country, in a pre-emptive security operation. His family assumed he was part of this arrested group.

During the interrogation, Mohamed was subject to enforced disappearance for three weeks. Also, his lawyer was not allowed to attend the interrogations. While detained at the CID, he was threatened and subjected to physical and psychological torture in order to give a false confession. He was beaten all over his body, electroshocked, and hung from the ceiling by investigation officers. Later, he was transferred to the Youth Hostels (Byoot AlShabab), (a place that was previously used to receive hostels from outside Bahrain or athletes from other countries, and that became used to detain and torture opposition activists after the beginning of the pro-democracy protests in 2011), where he was also tortured. Then, he was brought before the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). Two weeks after his arrest, he was able to call his parents, telling them that he would be transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. One week later, Mohamed was able to meet his parents at the Dry Dock Detention Center for the first time since his arrest.

Mohamed was not brought promptly before a judge, and he was unable to meet or call his lawyer regularly. Instead, he was able to meet his old lawyer only once, more than two months after his arrest, despite multiple attempts to be in contact with him. Also, he has not met his current lawyer yet, despite her multiple attempts to meet him. Also, his confessions were used against him in the trial, and  the prosecution witnesses were not responsive to the lawyer nor did they provide any information that the lawyer could refute. Consequently, Mohamed was convicted of: 1) Joining a terrorist group, 2) Receiving money and spending it on terrorist activities, and 3) Receiving and using fireworks. On 3 November 2020, in a mass trial that involved 51 individuals, which had clear violations of the right to a fair trial, where Mohammad was not even present in court during the session, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, in addition to the imposition of a fine of 100,000 Bahraini Dinars. Mohamed appealed his sentences, and the date for reviewing the appeal is set on 11 January 2021. According to the announcement of the Ministry of Interior a while after Mohamed’s arrest, this arrest and the arrest of the other convicted individuals came as part of a preemptive security operation, meaning that the victims had not committed any crime before the arrest. It also claims that the victims’ criminal acts extended from 2013 to 2019, whereas Mohamed’s family says that Mohamed was sent by the state within a delegation to study in Jordan from 2014 till 2018, and that after his return, he worked in a private laboratory as he was waiting for a chance to get a government-based job. After the issuance of the judgement, he was transferred to Jau Prison.

Since July 2020, Mohamed has been transferred several times to the hospital, despite that he did not have any health problems before his arrest. At the hospital, he was checked up by an internal disease specialist, who asked him for a laparoscopic operation, because he was suffering from symptoms of stomach pain and frequent vomiting. On 15 December, the parents were informed from the Hospital that Mohamed will undergo a laparoscopic operation in the Internal Medicine Department on 23 December, after undergoing a PCR test for Mohamed before the time of the operation. The family asked the prison administration to transfer Mohamed to his hospital appointment, but the prison administration did not transfer Mohamed to the hospital for his appointment to undergo a laparoscopic operation so far.

Mohamed’s warrantless arrest, violation of his privacy by searching his room for more than once, enforced disappearance, torture, and unfair trial 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 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 Mohamed’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 Mohamed’s appeal. ADHRB also urges Bahrain to investigate all the enforced disappearance allegations, the denial of attorney access allegations, and the allegations of searching Mohamed’s room while he was in detention. It also demands that Mohamed obtain his right to a fair trial and to urgently receive proper medical treatment.