Profile in Persecution: Abbas AbedAli Husain

Abbas Abed-Ali Husain, a maintenance worker at the Ministry of Interior, was warrantlessly arrested from his father’s house in Al-Eker, tortured during investigations, and sentenced on various charges. He is currently serving his sentence at Jau Prison.

Abbas was arrested in 2012 following the pro-democracy demonstrations. He was sentenced to one year in prison on a charge of illegal assembly and rioting. An appeal was submitted to the appeals court, and the sentence was reduced to six months. However, the sentence still caused him to lose his job at the ministry. Consequently, Abbas was released in July 2012. Later, during the years 2015, 2017, and 2018, he was sentenced in absentia to a total of 10 years in prison in three cases. Charges in the first case included intentional destruction, illegal assembly and rioting, and possession of flammable substances and explosives, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. In the second case, he was charged with illegal assembly and rioting, arson, and manufacturing and possession of explosives, for which he received a one year sentence. And finally, he was charged in a third case with arson, illegal assembly and rioting, and intentional destruction, for which he received a seven year sentence. He did not turn himself in, despite receiving multiple summons, out of fear that he would be convicted in more cases if he were imprisoned.

However, on 28 November 2019 at 1:30 A.M., masked civilian officers and officers from the Ministry of Interior raided Abbas’s father’s house in Al-Eker. Without presenting arrest or search warrants, they proceeded to confiscate electronic devices belonging to family members, and to arrest Abbas once again. He was immediately taken to the village cemetery to search for weapons they claimed Abbas had hidden there. An officer proceeded to slap him in the face and ordered other masked officers to kick him in the genitals. Once nothing was found, Abbas was returned to the police vehicle, where he was beaten again, and was taken to the Central Investigation Directorate (CID), but the authorities did not release his location. Once he was at the CID, Abbas called his family, telling them his location. After that, there was no further contact until he was transferred to Jau Prison.

Abbas was arrested a week after his brother Moosa, who is an activist residing in London, filed a formal complaint against the Bahraini embassy in London regarding the attempt on his life during his demonstration on the embassy roof in July.

Abbas’s interrogation lasted seven days. He spent two days at the CID, where he suffered different forms of physical and psychological torture. He was blindfolded and handcuffed with chains connected to his legs, left in a cold room, and forced to stand until the start of the interrogation. He was deprived of sleep and was banned from accessing the restroom and praying. During interrogation, some officers took turns beating him. Abbas was severely beaten with batons, punched, and kicked. Officers also delivered electric shocks to his genitals and back. He was told his mother and wife were arrested and would be sexually assaulted if he did not confess to possessing weapons and sheltering fugitives. They also made threats to his brother Moosa, stating that the British would not be able to protect him forever and asking whether Abbas believes that Moosa would be punished the same way for opposing their king if he were in Bahrain. After spending two days at the CID, on 29 November 2019, he was taken to Building 15 of Jau Prison where he stayed for five days. During this time, he was also taken to the Royal Academy, where he was once again torture.  He was mistreated on the basis of sect and political opinion. Throughout the interrogation, Abbas did not have any legal counsel and could not meet his family, and he was forced to sign a statement without knowing its content. Authorities also prohibited him from assigning an attorney until after he was interrogated and imprisoned. He was not presented to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) and was directly imprisoned seven days after his arrest.

As a result of the torture Abbas endured, he suffered from bruising and swelling on his back and genitals, which still cause him pain and complications. Despite persistent demands for a doctor, he has yet to receive this treatment. Abbas also suffers from severe epilepsy, but he does not receive proper medical treatment for this condition, causing his family to worry about his well-being. Following the interrogation, he was directly transferred to Jau Prison, where he remains.

On 11 December 2019, Abbas was sentenced in a fourth case in absentia to 10 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Bahraini dinars on charges of joining and funding a terrorist group, which made his total sentence 20 years in prison. The court of appeal upheld the sentence in the fourth case on 24 February 2020, while no appeal was allowed for the other cases because the deadline had already passed. On 12 March 2020, the Fourth Lower Criminal Court sentenced Abbas to two extra months in prison based on Illegal Assembly and Possession of Incendiary Bottles charges. After submitting appeals related to his fourth case, his total sentence was reduced to 18 years and 2 months.

Abbas’s warrantless arrest, torture and unfair trial go against the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is party to. As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities to release Abbas, who was denied a fair trial and due process rights and tortured into confessing and to ensure that any retrial meets international standards of a fair trial. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill treatment by CID officials, to hold those officers accountable for their illegal actions.