Profile in Persecution: Alaa Mansoor Ansaif

Alaa Mansoor Ansaif was a 17-year-old student studying electrical engineering when he was warrantlessly arrested by officers in civilian clothing in a house raid. He was then forcibly disappeared, subjected to physical and psychological torture, and forced to sign a confession.  He is currently held at Jau Prison where he is being subjected to severe medical negligence.

On 4 August 2013, at 10:35 a.m., a large number of masked intelligence agents dressed in civilian clothing stormed Alaa’s house, without any warning. The intelligence agents tampered with the contents of the house and confiscated three cameras, a laptop, and a phone. In addition, they arrested Alaa without a warrant and without even stating the reason for the arrest.

After his arrest, Alaa was taken to the CID and forcibly disappeared. On 7 August 2013, he called his family only for three seconds telling them not to worry. After that, Alaa called on 12 August after midnight only to tell his family that he was fine. He did not disclose his whereabouts in both calls. Only until 13 August was Alaa able to inform his parents that he is held in Dry Dock Detention Center, where he had been transferred the day before, and he also told them they would be able to visit him on 15 August.

During the investigation, CID officers tortured Alaa as they subjected him to severe beatings causing his jaw to break. In addition, he suffered severe bruising and redness on his face and neck leaving him unable to feel his face. He was also subjected to psychological torture with the officers insulting his Shia sect and religious beliefs. As a result of the torture endured, Alaa was forced to sign a pre-prepared confession. He was transferred to Al-Rifaa police station, where he remained until the signs of torture healed, and then was presented before the PPO. During the entire period of investigation, Alaa was not allowed to make contact with his lawyer, and his lawyer was not allowed to be present during interrogations.

After his transfer to Dry Dock Detention Center, Alaa was examined at Al-Qalaa Hospital and returned to detention, where he was finally able to contact his family. One year after his arrest, Alaa was medically examined at Salmaniya Hospital and he had to undergo nose surgery due to the repercussions of the torture he suffered. However, he still suffers from a number of health issues that remain untreated, including breathing difficulties, a broken jaw, painful knee cartilage injuries, weak eyesight, and a spinal injury, leaving him in constant need of painkillers.

Alaa was convicted in two cases, the first being taking photographs of Budaiya Street before the explosion of a gas cylinder on the evening of 3 August 2013. The second case relates to the 10 March 2015 events of Jau Prison in which a riot was violently dispersed. On 18 March 2014, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison in relation to the first case. As for the second case, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in addition to a fine. Nevertheless, after the appeal of the second case, his sentence was reduced to 10 years. Thus, in total, Alaa was sentenced to 28 years in prison. It is important to note that Alaa’s fair trial rights were violated, as he was denied access to his lawyer and was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for the trial. Furthermore, neither Alaa nor his lawyer was allowed to present evidence in the trials to challenge the allegations made against him, or challenge the use of a confession extracted under torture.

Alaa’s parents submitted several complaints and communications to the Ombudsman and National Institution for Human Rights regarding the torture he was subjected to. While the officer who tortured him was sentenced to 3 months, the judgment was not implemented because the Third Higher Criminal Appeals Court suspended the execution of the judgment with a bail of 100 Bahraini Dinars. As such, the officer was not imprisoned.

Alaa is currently forcibly disappeared following an incident with one of the officer in Building 12 in Jau Prison, which is used for medical quarantining. Alaa had been transferred there on 12 September 2021 for isolation after he began exhibiting flu symptoms. On 14 September, an officer tried to close the only air vent in the cell Alaa was held in. When Alaa tried to stop him, the officer threatened him with beating and solitary confinement. Alaa was assaulted and placed in heavy chains for long hours, then he was transferred to an unknown location. His family, who has not received a call from him since 10 September, are worried about him and his health condition, considering the fact that they are unaware of his whereabouts and wellbeing.

The Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Alaa, from his arbitrary arrest, his enforced disappearance, his torture, and his denial of fair trial rights, are all in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and constitute violations of Bahrain’s obligations under international treaties, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thus, ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to overturn Alaa’s trial as it is marred with fair trial violations. Furthermore, ADHRB calls on the Bahraini authorities to hold perpetrators of torture accountable by putting in place strict punishments rather than low fines. Finally, ADHRB urges the Bahraini government to disclose Alaa’s location and allow him to contact his family so that they may be reassured about his wellbeing.