Profile in Persecution: Khalil Ebrahim AlQassab

Khalil Ebrahim AlQassab was 18 years old when he was arrested for the second time in his life from his house in Northern Sehla in May 2013. Since his arrest, Khalil has suffered physical and psychological torture, as well as religious discrimination at the hands of the Bahraini authorities. He remains in Jau Prison where he is completing a sentence of more than two decades.

Khalil was first arrested in April 2012 after receiving a summon for his participation in the 2012 Roundabout demonstration. He was arrested for 24 days and was released on 8 May 2012. On 18 May 2013, officers dressed in civilian clothing raided Khalil’s house in Northern Sehla at 2:30 am. They arrested him without a warrant as part of an arbitrary raid campaign in the area, and his education was interrupted as a result.

Upon his arrest, Khalil was forcibly disappeared for an entire week, as his family was unaware of his fate and whereabouts for that period until he called them and informed them that he was being interrogated at the CID, where he did not have access to a lawyer. At the CID, Khalil was subjected to torture in order to extract a confession to the charges held against him.

He was then transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center where he stayed for a few days before being transferred to the AlKhamis police station because his name was added to the case of the murder of a police officer named Mohamed Asef. At the AlKhamis police station, Khalil was also interrogated without a lawyer for a couple of days. During the interrogation, he was tortured and forced into confessing to acts he did not commit. After he confessed, Khalil was returned to New Dry Dock Prison, and then was transferred to Jau Prison for treatment after suffering from extreme pain in his back.

At the CID and the AlKhamis police station, Khalil was subjected to severe and various forms of physical and psychological torture. He was blindfolded, prevented from praying and sleeping, was forced to stand up for long periods of time, and was subjected to beatings and electric shocks on all parts of his body. At the Dry Dock Detention Center, Khalil was placed naked in a 1-square-meter air-conditioned room, and cold water was poured on him. Furthermore, Khalil was subjected to discrimination on the basis of his religious sect and was prevented from praying during the first period of his detention.

Khalil was only allowed to meet his parents for the first time at the Dry Dock Detention Center on 10 June 2013, around 1 month after his arrest. His parents reported that signs of torture were apparent on his face and that he complained of pain in his head.

Khalil was convicted in three separate cases. On 31 July 2013, he was charged with illegal assembly and rioting and was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment. Upon appeal, his sentence was reduced to 1 year.  On 19 February 2014, Khalil was charged with the murder of officer Mohamed Asef on 14 February 2013, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. On 31 August 2014, the Court of Appeals reduced Khalil’s sentence in this case to 10 years. Charges were also held against Khalil in relation to the riots that took place in Jau Prison on 10 March 2015. In this case, his sentence was reduced from 15 to 10 years of imprisonment upon appeal. On 30 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld all the judgements issued against Khalil, who was sentenced to a total of 21 years in prison. During all trials, Khalil was denied access to his lawyer, he did not have adequate time and facilities to prepare for trial, he was not allowed to present evidence, and was not brought promptly before a judge.

In April 2019, Khalil suffered from daily nose bleeds, and although the Jau Prison administration would transfer him to the prison clinic, he would only be given an ice pack and pain killers, rather than being presented to a specialist. Due to the poor hygiene conditions in Jau Prison, Khalil contracted the Coronavirus in March 2021. He told his parents that he had lost his sense of taste and smell. During the period from Khalil’s infection until his recovery, his parents were unable to contact him or receive news of his health condition, despite submitting several complaints to the Ombudsman in that regard. Upon contracting the virus, Khalil was not isolated from the rest of the prisoners and was kept in the same cell, where ventilation is bad and movement is limited. Khalil was not allowed to leave his cell for the duration of his sickness, nor was he given access to any medical treatment or personnel. He also reported that he could not move because of the pain he was experiencing and that he suffered from breathing problems. The prison authorities did not inform the prisoners of the precautionary measure that they must follow, and the cells and corridors were not regularly sanitized to prevent the spread of the virus.

Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Khalil, who was only 18 years old at the time of arrest, from his arbitrary deprivation of liberty without a warrant, denial of fair trial and due process rights, severe torture, discrimination, and denial of medical care and education all constitute violations of Bahrain’s obligations under the Bahraini Constitution and 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). Therefore, ADHRB urges authorities to drop all false and fabricated charges against Khalil and to grant him a trial that respects international judicial and evidentiary standards, namely one that discards the confessions extracted from him under torture and that takes into account his young age at the time of his arrest. Finally, ADHRB calls upon Bahraini authorities to urgently investigate allegations of torture and inhumane treatment by investigations officers with a view to holding them accountable.