Profile in Persecution: Habib Ali AlFardan

Habib Ali AlFardan was a 30-year-old Bahraini shop owner from Sar, who had undergone brain tumor removal less than four months before his arrest in 2015 after his house was raided at dawn. After being forcibly disappeared and tortured, Habib was convicted in an unfair trials. He is currently serving his sentence in Jau Prison.

On 12 May 2015, Habib’s house in Sar village was raided at 4 a.m. by over a dozen officers in civilian clothing and only two police officers. They started searching the place, confiscating personal items and money. Habib was interrogated alone in the bedroom, while his wife and daughter were interrogated in the lounge. The search lasted two hours, and his car was also confiscated. The apartment was raided again in the afternoon on the same day; the search lasted a long time, and many of Habib and his family members’ personal belongings were confiscated. The searches and arrest took place without any warrant being presented.

Habib was subjected to enforced disappearance for 12 days, during which time his family was looking for him, while both the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and the Dry Dock Detention Center were providing them with false information, until Habib contacted them and stated that he was at the CID. The family  submitted a request to the Public Prosecution in order to visit Habib at the CID, but they were able to visit him two days later at the Dry Dock Detention Center.

Habib was interrogated at the CID following his arrest for a period of almost one month. He was threatened with the spot on his head that was operated on and was subjected to numerous acts of psychological and physical harassment and torture. He was handcuffed throughout the interrogation period until night. He was presented to the prosecution after more than two weeks, but at the Public Prosecution Office, Habib could not speak with the prosecutor nor with his lawyer and could only sign the written confessions, fearing that he would be returned to the investigation building to be tortured again. After signing the confessions, Habib was transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center. Habib was eventually sentenced to 75 years in prison on charges of possession and manufacture of explosive substances and attempted murder. He was transferred to Jau Prison to serve his sentence. Only months before his arrest, Habib underwent an operation to remove a large brain tumor in January 2015 in Germany. Habib had been suffering from headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory impairment. Post-surgery recommendations included avoiding any physical and mental stress and undergoing an MRI  every 3 months.

After Habib’s return from Germany, and before his conditions fully improved or his memory was restored properly, he was arrested and interrogated under stressful circumstances. In prison, Habib’s condition is worsening while he is not receiving proper medical treatment. He is suffering from memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and recurring headaches, which are the symptoms he experienced when he had the brain tumor. While Habib had an appointment at the hospital on 9 November 2021, he was not taken for the appointment.

The Bahraini authorities’ actions against Habib, from his arrest without a warrant to his coerced confession, violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Bahrain is a party to. Furthermore, the medical negligence he is facing while concerns regarding his brain tumor returning rise, constitutes a violation of the Nelson Mandela Rules. As such, ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by taking his health conditions into consideration and by annulling Habib’s conviction while ensuring that any subsequent retrial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. ADHRB additionally urges authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by prison officials and to hold those officials accountable, as well as to provide adequate and timely medical treatment to Habib and all prisoners.