Profile in Persecution: Isa Ali Sarhan

Isa Ali Sarhan was only 17 years old when masked men and riot police stormed his house and arrested him in 2009. He was threatened and subjected to different forms of torture from the moment of his arrest. He is currently in Jau Prison serving a 15-year-sentence. 

On 16 March 2009, 10 riot police cars with masked men surrounded Isa’s house and warrantlessly arrested him. Riot police and masked men stormed his house at 3 am when his father was not present, kicked him in his sleep, and covered his face using a T-shirt. 

Isa’s family knew nothing about his whereabouts and charges for 10 days despite asking about him at Isa Town Police station on a daily basis, until they were told to bring him clothes. His family was able to meet him and saw traces of torture all over his body. Officers had begun to torture him from the moment they arrested him. 

The torture had persisted until Isa confessed to the charges against him. At Al-Wusta police station, he was pepper-sprayed, beaten with a stick and plastic hose, cursed, and threatened with rape, and the rape of his mother and sister. He did not receive any treatment for the injuries sustained under torture despite a forensic doctor confirming that he had wounds and discoloration on his body. 

Isa was not able to adequately prepare for the trial or see his attorney during the interrogation period.  On 5 July 2010, he was first sentenced to life on charges that included burning tires, illegal assembly, attempted murder, and possession of flammable materials. However, the Appeals Court reduced the sentence to 15 years because of his young age. 

Isa still suffers from chronic pain in the shoulder due to the torture he was subjected to during detention. He recently had stomach and back pain, and after he was urgently transferred to Salmaniya Hospital, the family learned that he was suffering from kidney stones. He suffers from pain due to problems in his teeth, and he only receives treatment after extensive communication and follow-up with the Ombudsman and the National Institute for Human Rights.

The Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Isa, from his arrest without warrant, his torture, threats of rape, and 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, mainly the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Hence, ADHRB calls upon the Bahraini authorities to investigate allegations of torture and inhumane treatment by the officers who arrested and interrogated Isa in order to hold them accountable. Furthermore, ADHRB urges authorities to hold a retrial for Isa which upholds international standards of a fair trial.