Profile in Persecution: Mohamed Abdali Khatam

Mohamed Abdali Khatam is a Bahraini youth who was warrantlessly arrested in 2015 from his house. He has been subjected to multiple human rights violations, including torture and unfair trial, and was charged in multiple cases. He is currently serving his sentence at Jau Prison.

Mohamed was still a school student when he was pursued by authorities for participating in peaceful protests and demonstrations. During a protest in Sitra in 2012, Mohamed was arrested and sentenced to one month in prison. During his arrest, Mohamed fell and broke his left hand, and officers began beating him until he sustained additional fractures in his hand. He was transferred to the military hospital, where he underwent an operation during which iron rods were placed on his hands. He was supposed to continue his treatment and have the iron rods removed, but the prison authorities neglected him. He was released after completing his sentence, but authorities did not give his parents any medical documents or reports concerning his condition in order to continue his treatment.

Mohamed was later wanted by the authorities, who pursued him several times but failed to arrest him. He found out he was wanted in 2014 from some friends who were summoned following the arrest of his brother. Subsequently, Mohamed would not stay in his house, as it was constantly raided.

On 5 May 2015, an officer dressed in civilian clothing entered the house 15 minutes after Mohamed’s arrival. After that, a number of riot police surrounded and entered the house and arrested him without presenting any warrant. Officers placed him inside a minibus, and returned moments later to his family requesting his phone. However, his mother refused to hand it over and, after four hours of trying to find the phone, they left without it.

After his arrest, Mohamed was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Directorate building, where he stayed for a week. He called his family on the same day of the arrest informing them of his location and requesting clothes. His interrogation lasted for three days without the presence of a lawyer, during which time officers severely beat him and forced him to confess to five cases. They wanted him to admit that he had contacts with the outside, which he initially denied since he does not know anyone abroad and has never traveled in his life. However, after being beaten, tortured, and threatened with electrocution and rape, he agreed to sign the confessions they requested without knowing the content of the papers. After that, he was transferred to Dry Dock detention center.

He was charged with five cases; illegal assembly and rioting, assault on security personnel, manufacturing fake explosives, blocking roads and burning tires, and insulting the judge during court for not standing up when the judge entered. On 5 May 2015, the total of his sentence reached 16 years, 6 months, and 10 days of imprisonment. He was sentenced to five years in prison in the case of manufacturing fake explosives, six months for insulting the judge and ten days for a new case of vandalism in which he was forced to sign a confession when he couldn’t pay a fine of 50 Bahraini dinars. Mohamed did not have a lawyer, as neither his family nor the court were able to appoint him one, so he filed his own appeal in the case of the fake explosives. After appeal, his sentence was reduced to 14 years.

Mohamed’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 respect its human rights obligations and immediately release Mohamed, who was denied a fair trial and due process rights and to investigate the allegations of torture and ill treatment in order to hold the perpetrators accountable.