Profile in Persecution: Jaafar Husain Isa

Jaafar Isa was a 24-year-old activist when he was brutally arrested without a warrant in a pre-planned ambush in his village of Bani Jamra in December 2013. He was subjected to severe and continuous torture and mistreatment both after his arrest and during his time in prison. He also suffered multiple health crises because of the lack of hygienic standards in his cells. He remains in Jau prison to this day.

On 9 December 2013, Jaafar was arrested during a pre-planned ambush that surrounded six houses in Bani Jamra. A helicopter plane, armored vehicles, police cars, riot police, Commandos forces, and officers in civilian clothes tightened control on the village in order to arrest him. During the arrest, they beat and kicked him to the point of unconsciousness. He was then transferred to a building under construction in the village of Budaiya, where they continued to torture him, then to the Central Investigation Department (CID) where he was subjected to enforced disappeared for 11 days; his parents were unaware of his whereabouts.

During his enforced disappearance at the CID, he was subjected to the most severe types of torture at the hands of CID officers and officers who oversaw his arrest. After being treated at the hospital for his torture wounds he was taken back and tortured again. Jaafar was eventually coerced into confessing because of the torture he endured. He was then transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center. It is important to note that Jaafar was always threatened before arrest by state security agents because of his political activism and his participation in the activities of the democratic movement. When his family was first allowed to visit him a month after his arrest, signs of torture were still evident on him as he could not sit down, and he told them that he had been tortured in his sensitive areas and was still suffering from pain and consequences resulting from the torture.

Jaafar was sometimes denied access to an attorney and only rarely allowed to present evidence in court. He endured extreme torture at the hands of CID officials as retribution for his activism, and to get him to confess to the charges against him, which he eventually did. He was convicted in several cases including the cell case with 61 defendants with the following charges: 1) Joining a terrorist group and receiving the funds necessary for its sustenance and spending on terrorist activities in addition to receiving and storing firearms and explosives, 2) the unauthorized possession, acquiring, and manufacture of explosive materials, firearms and ammunition for a terrorist purpose and 3) training on the use of fire crackers and firearms.

On 15 October 2014, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 500 Bahraini dinars for the aforementioned case, with its appeal being upheld. In another case, he was sentenced to 44 years and 6 months. He was sentenced to a total of 104 years in all the cases against him, and his nationality was revoked, but it was returned to him in the royal pardon issued on 21 April 2019.

While in prison in December 2019, Jaafar suffered from severe itching in all areas of the body, and he was always threatened when he would request to be examined at the doctor’s office, as prisoners who insist to be examined are placed in medical isolation as a form of reprisal. Jaafar would be presented to non-specialists without being examined to properly diagnose his condition. He was transferred to medical isolation three times on the pretext of being infected with hepatitis, with the first time being in July, the second time in September, and the third time in October. His last forced isolation lasted 56 days before he was returned to Building 14 of Jau Prison on 21 December 2020. A blood sample would be taken from him every five days and the results were always indeterminate, and as a result, he suffered from severe psychological exhaustion to the point of insanity. Due to the long periods of isolation, Jaafar also suffered from Paresthesia in the limbs and peeling of the skin as a result of the lack of movement and the lack of adequate sunlight, and accordingly several posts were published on social media calling for the human rights bodies, both the National Institution for Human Rights and the Ombudsman Office, to urgently remove Jaafar from isolation and provide him with treatment in light of the results of the tests. Furthermore, the isolated building he was held in was full of insects and rodents and did not meet hygienic conditions and standards. Jaafar’s family submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior about following up on his health status while he was in isolation for more than 50 days, completely alone and undergoing several medical examinations without being informed  of any of the results. However, these efforts were not successful.

The treatment Jaafar has suffered at the hands of Bahraini authorities, from his arrest and the torture he endured during his forced disappearance to his conviction in an unfair mass trial, constitutes violations of international law, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which were ratified by Bahrain. ADHRB calls upon the authorities to drop the preselected charges against Jaafar and ensure a fair trial is held for all his charges, where his forced confession is not used against him. Further, ADHRB urges authorities to investigate claims of torture at the CID in order to hold those officials accountable and provide urgent and adequate medical treatment as well as a hygienic prison environment.