Profile in Persecution: Jaafar Habib Kadhem

Jaafar Habib Kadhem, a 16-year-old Bahraini student, was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for participating in peaceful demonstrations against Bahrain’s normalization with the Israeli occupation. Despite being a minor, officers arrested and interrogated him alone. He is currently serving his sentence at the New Dry Dock Prison.

Before his arrest, Jaafar was summoned various times due to his participation in peaceful protests. In February or March 2022, officers from Hamad Town Roundabout 17 police station summoned Jaafar by phone several times to interrogate him over charges of participation in peaceful demonstrations and writing on walls and roads. After going to the station, he was transferred to the Public Prosecution Office, where he was questioned without the presence of a guardian or lawyer. He was released later that day at 11 pm. He was summoned again a couple of days later to the Roundabout 17 police station where he was questioned about his participation in a peaceful demonstration in Manama, also without a guardian or lawyer. Later, he signed a pledge and was transferred to AlQudaibiya police station where he signed another pledge. His father also signed pledges to bring him in when he is summoned.

On 16 June 2022, his parents received a call from Al-Khamis Police Station requesting that Jaafar be brought to the station for investigation only. The officers said he would not be detained and there is no arrest warrant for him since he is a minor, and they only want to talk to him. Jaafar’s father took him to the station at around 8 am where he was questioned alone. The officers then asked his father to leave, indicating that they will call him later. At about 2 pm, Jaafar called his father and informed him that he had been transferred to the Public Prosecution and AlQalaa for examinations, after which he would be detained and transferred to New Dry Dock Prison.

Jaafar had been convicted on 31 May 2022, in absentia, on charges of possessing and manufacturing flammable or explosive canisters to be used in endangering people’s lives as well as public and private funds and participating in a public assembly of more than five people intended to commit crimes and disturb public security. He was sentenced to one-year imprisonment and a five-hundred-Bahraini-Dinar fine.

The arrest of a minor, without an arrest warrant, as well as their interrogation without a guardian or lawyer constitutes a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Bahrain is a party. It also constitutes a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.. As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain calls on the government of Bahrain to release all political prisoners, including Jaafar, since he has been arbitrarily detained in connection to his exercise of the right to freedom of assembly. ADHRB also calls on the government to uphold its responsibilities towards minors and abide by international law and conventions.