Profile in Persecution: Salman Ali Hassan

Salman Ali Hassan, a 20-year-old student at an industrial school, was arrested without a warrant in September 2021. After being tortured and forced to confess under duress to the charge of burning an ATM, Salman was sentenced in an unfair trial. Salman is currently serving his sentence in New Dry Dock Prison.

On 12 September 2021, after leaving a funeral procession, civilian vehicles intercepted the car Salman was in, at a red light. Armed individuals in civilian clothing who did not indicate that they belonged to the Ministry of Interior exited the vehicles, opened the doors of the cars, and forcibly removed Salman and others from the car, without presenting an arrest warrant. They placed each individual in a separate car and took them to the plainclothes officers’ assembly point, after which they took them to an unknown location. The individuals arrested were distributed on different buses that headed to their respective homes which were then subjected to raids.

Plainclothes officers and riot police forces raided Salman’s house without presenting a search warrant. Salman’s parents were not informed of the reason for his arrest. They searched his room while video recording and confiscated 2 bags with his clothes, some books, and pictures of Sheikh Ali Salman and Sheikh Isa Qassem. After the raid ended, they took Salman to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Adliya and then to AlQalaa Hospital to undergo some routine examinations.

Afterward, he was returned to the CID where officers handcuffed and blindfolded him. They only allowed him to use the bathroom with handcuffs on. Officers prevented him from praying and beat him with their hands and feet. The interrogator threatened to frame Salman in more serious cases if he did not confess to the charges against him. They tortured him psychologically and physically by holding him for long hours. Salman was supposed to be taken to AlHidd police station in the evening to sleep and rest, but they only took him there for a few minutes to sign in and would be taken back to the investigation building. Officers put him in a very cold closed room, with the air-conditioning on all the time. The tiles in the room were ceramic, and he slept on them without a mattress, handcuffed and blindfolded. Under torture, Salman confessed to the charges against him, and, at the Public Prosecution Office, he was told to only repeat what he had confessed to.

Salman was interrogated without his lawyer. While he was allowed to call his family on the first day of his arrest to inform them of his whereabouts, he was threatened not to tell them anything else, and contact was cut off for the rest of the interrogation period. His family has not been able to visit him under the pretext of the Coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that preventive measures are not being taken in the overcrowded and closed cells Salman was held in. After the investigation, Salman and the rest of the accused were taken to the ATM in AlDair, which is the alleged crime scene. Under threats of weapons as well as death threats, they had to act out the charges they were accused of, which is the burning of the ATM. The prosecutor witnessed this coercion.

On 28 February 2022, the First High Criminal Court sentenced Salman to 15 years in prison, with a fine of 100,000 Bahraini dinars, on the charges of burning the ATM of the National Bank of Bahrain and practicing terrorist activities by receiving funds and tools. Salman had no access to his lawyer and was not allowed to adequately prepare for trial. He had asked to see a doctor as a result of the torture he endured. The authorities provided a doctor, who lightly examined him for no more than a minute.  While a complaint was raised to the SIU regarding the torture he was subjected to, there was no outcome. The confession Salman gave under torture was used to convict him.

During his imprisonment at the New Dry Dock Prison for juveniles, authorities placed Salman in Building 16 which is the quarantine building. Officers mistreated him when he asked the prison administration when they would be transferred to Building 17. They threatened to keep him in quarantine for his entire sentence. Moreover, since visits are suspended, prisoners can have video calls with family members. However, prisoners are not able to have any privacy during these calls, since the guards can see the screen and hear what is being said. When Salman asks officers not to look because a woman is on the video, they refuse and yell at him.

Salman’s arbitrary detention and torture are clear violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is a party to. As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities to release Salman, who was denied a fair trial and due process rights and tortured into confessing, and ensure that any retrial meets international standards of a fair trial. Furthermore, ADHRB urges the relevant authorities to effectively and impartially investigate Salman’s allegations of torture and mistreatment.