Sayed Falah Mohsen Fadhul, a Bahraini high school student, was only 15 years old when authorities arrested him from his family’s apartment on 16 January 2020. Baselessly accused of joining a terrorist organization affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and wroking to avenge Qassim Suleimani’s assassination, Sayed Falah was convicted along with 17 defendants in what has come to be known as the Suleimani Cell Case. Sayed Falah remains at the Dry Dock Detention Center waiting to be transferred to New Dry Dock Prison, where he will be serving his sentence.
At 3:00 am on 16 January 2020, Sayed Falah’s family was awoken by violent knocks on their apartment door. His father opened the door to a group of armed officers from the Ministry of Interior, civilian officers, Commandos and military forces who claimed they had an order from the public prosecutor to search the apartment but did not show any proof of that. They entered Sayed Falah’s room and once they confirmed his identity, they handcuffed him without stating the reason for the arrest, seized his phone and ID card, and put him in a white Land Cruiser that was parked outside among the 16 cars belonging to the arresting forces. Sitting next to him in the car was an officer smoking a cigarette who told Sayed Falah that he was going to torture him. The officer blew smoke into Sayed Falah’s face, and every time the 15-year-old boy tried to move his head away from the smoke, the officer would hit Sayed Falah’s face against the car window. The officers drove around for a while but Sayed Falah could not tell where they were because he was blindfolded.
On the same morning at 6:00 am, Sayed Falah called his parents and informed them that he was being held at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). He spent 27 days at the CID, where he was interrogated without his lawyer. He was able to call his family during that period, but interrogators forced him to tell them that he was fine and that he would be returning home the next day, leaving his parents uncertain about their son’s fate. While he was staying at the CID, investigation officers and their affiliates beat, insulted and told Sayed Falah obscene remarks, in order to extract false confessions from him. Moreover, throughout his stay, Sayed Falah was discriminated against for his political views and opinions. After spending almost a month at the CID, Sayed Falah was taken to the Public Prosecution Office, and then was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. Only then were his parents able to meet him, which they did only once before visits were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sayed Falah was charged with joining a group for the purpose of disrupting the law or violating rights and freedoms. On 31 January 2021, Sayed Falah was convicted of the charge brought against him and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. During the trial, he was not able to present evidence nor to challenge the evidence presented against him, which consisted of false confessions extracted from the other defendants under torture and duress since Sayed Falah himself did not confess. Although Sayed Falah’s lawyer was appointed as soon as he was arrested, she wasn’t allowed to meet him or be with him at the investigation sessions, she was only allowed to attend court sessions and hearings and even then, she was not able to speak to her client. Sayed Falah currently remains at the Dry Dock Detention Center and, after being postponed four times, his appeal session is due to take place on 26 April 2021.
Bahraini authorities arrested Sayed Falah, a minor, without presenting an arrest warrant, they mistreated him, discriminated against him, and deprived him access to his lawyer, to a fair trial and his due process rights. All these actions constitute violations of Bahrain’s obligations under the Bahraini Constitution and under international law, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covennant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As he was arrested without a warrant and was not granted a fair trial under international standards, Sayed Falah was arbitrarily detained by the Bahraini authorities. ADHRB therefore calls upon Bahrain to grant Sayed Falah a fair retrial that respects international judicial and evidentiary standards and takes into account his young age and legal status of minor, in addition to investigating the allegations of torture to coerce a confession with a view of holding perpetrator accountable.