Profile in Persecution: Ali Jaffar Ashoor Ali    

Ali Jaffar Ali is a young Bahraini man who was 18 years old when he was warrantlessly arrested in 2014, subjected to multiple human rights violations including torture and unfair trial, and charged in multiple cases. He is currently serving his sentence at Jau Prison.

Ali was arrested for the first time in 2012 and was sentenced to six months in prison after he was charged with destroying surveillance cameras. On 15 February 2013, he was arrested for the second time and sentenced to one-year imprisonment after he was charged with illegal assembly and possession of Molotov cocktails.

His third and final arrest took place on 29 September 2014, when officers broke into his house at 4:00 A.M. without knocking on the door and pursued him over the roofs of nearby houses. The attack on the house was carried out by a significant number of police vehicles, with approximately five jeeps and three armored vehicles, in addition to one helicopter. They were finally able to capture him with the help of the helicopter which guided them to his location. The officers did not present any warrant or mention the reason for the arrest.

The investigation was held at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) where he was disappeared for four days. He called his family on 2 October 2014 and informed them that he was at the CID. The interrogation lasted for three days, during which time he was tortured in order to extract confessions without the presence of his lawyer. His family was unable to appoint a lawyer due to financial constraints, but Ali did not think having a lawyer would change his sentencing. He was beaten on different parts of his body and he was subjected to electric shocks on his sensitive areas. Ali was then transferred to Dry Dock prison where his family visited him on 13 October 2014. He was also beaten at Dry Dock prison by police officers, who would often beat him as often as they desired.

Ali was charged with attacking Sitra police station, attacking the Sitra post office, attempted murder of the post office guard, assaulting security officers, possession of Molotov cocktails, rioting, and illegal assembly. On 3 February 2015, he was sentenced to two years in prison for rioting, illegal assembly, and possession of Molotov cocktails. He was transferred to the New Dry Dock after this sentence. He was also sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to nine years after appeal in the case of the attack on the Sitra post office. Because his sentences are not to be served concurrently, the total of his sentences was 21 years in prison. He was not able to prepare for trial nor was he able to present and challenge evidence presented against him in trial. The court assigned him a lawyer but he never contacted Ali who represented himself during trial. Additionally, he was also recently charged on 17 April 2021 with the use of force against public officials at Jau Prison along with 64 of his companions, but the judgment has not yet been issued.

Two years after his arrest, Ali was transferred to Jau Prison after reaching the age of 20.

Ali has faced various human rights violations throughout his imprisonment which prompted his family to raise complaints to the Ombudsman. On 9 June 2016, Ali’s family filed a complaint regarding an incident in which Ali was subjected to severe beatings and tied to a ladder in a corridor of Jau prison. The assault occurred away from surveillance cameras, and Ali urged his family to approach the Ombudsman, resulting in the filing of a complaint. A delegation from the Ombudsman subsequently visited the prison, examined Ali’s condition, and reported the complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s office. The Ombudsman also sent a response to the family saying that they had initiated an investigation into the complaint.

On 11 January 2019, Ali’s family filed another complaint with the Ombudsman regarding his hunger strike, which lasted from 8 to 23 January 2019. Ali initiated the strike as a response to the authorities’ disregard for his request to have a private family visit – a request he had made repeatedly for four years. Notably, family visits in Jau prison typically occur with solid and opaque barriers separating prisoners and their families, so his family cannot see him and can only hear his voice through the phone. Ali also refrained from family visits because of the violations he has been subjected to before each visit, such as harassment, humiliating inspections, cutting off half of the visit time, and setting up barriers. He applied for a special visit permission, but he did not receive it despite repeated promises. On 12 January 2019, Ali’s blood sugar dropped significantly to four, resulting in his transfer to the prison clinic for urgent medical attention.

Following his meeting with an officer in charge on 23 January, Ali decided to end his hunger strike after being informed that he had been granted permission for a private family visit. However, on 28 January 2019, the family received a call from the Ombudsman, notifying them that private family visits had been prohibited for all detainees due to a notice received from the Ministry of the Interior.

During a phone call with Ali on 5 February, he informed his mother that the prison administration had told him three days earlier that he had received a special visit permission on 10 February. However, on 10 February, Ali’s family met him in a regular visit, with communication limited to phone calls due to the presence of a glass barrier between them. This occurrence violated the promises made by the prison authorities to Ali regarding private family visits.

Additionally, on 6 May 2021, the family submitted another complaint regarding an incident on 17 April 2021 during which the police attacked Ali and his fellow prisoners, beating them with clubs and pepper spraying them while they were fasting on a Saturday afternoon. As a result, Ali and others were left without food and drinks, handcuffed for a week without access to showers, and unable to clean the blood from their faces and bodies due to the unavailability of cleaning materials. In response to the family’s complaint, the Office of the Ombudsman stated that it had received the request and conducted a review by contacting the relevant authority to convey the details of the complaint for their consideration. Following these actions, the Ombudsman made the decision to close the case on 25 April 2021. It should be noted that Ali and his fellow prisoners who were victims of this attack were subsequently charged with the use of force against public officials at Jau Prison.

Moreover, on 4 July 2021, Ali was taken from his cell without any reason and placed in solitary confinement in Isolation Ward 21. He remained in isolation until 18 July 2021, where he was handcuffed and prevented from praying, eating, and sleeping.

On 12 June 2023, the Eastern Riffa Police Station issued a warrant for Ali’s appearance before the First High Criminal Court. The court hearing was scheduled for Sunday 18 June 2023 at 10 A.M. for a felony punishable by law; however, the felony was not mentioned.

Ali’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. Additionally, the ill-treatment he was subjected to during imprisonment violates the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, otherwise known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules”. As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities respect its human rights obligations and immediately and unconditionally release Ali, who was denied a fair trial and due process rights and to investigate the allegations of torture and ill treatment in prison in order to hold the perpetrators accountable.