Updated: Ali Isa Jasim was a 15-year-old high school student when he was arrested without a warrant along with other young boys by officers in civilian clothing. He was subjected to enforced disappearance for a week and denied contact with his family. At only 15 years of age, he was one of 51 individuals subjected to a mass trial marred with forced disappearances, torture, and fair trial violations. The violations against Ali continue, including depriving him of the right to education, leading him to resort to multiple hunger strikes to achieve his demand.
On 13 November 2019, Ali was out of the house to purchase personal items and was on a Whatsapp call with his mother when the line cut at 8:26 PM when he was ambushed along with a group of young people; he was approached by masked civilian officers, armed forces, and riot police who arrested the group. The family did not receive any calls from any entity requesting their son be brought before an official body, nor did they receive any summons and subpoenas. He was not wanted and was not politically active, as he was only a high school student at the time.
At 1:00 AM, Ali called his family to inform them he was being held at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). His family visited the CID to confirm this the next day, but officials refused to release that information. It was not until a week later that Ali called and confirmed to his family that he was there and asked for clothes while sounding very confused and flustered.
During the investigation, Ali was subjected to various torture methods to extract confessions on preselected charges. CID officers eventually extracted a confession from Ali after the torture. After nine days of interrogation at the CID, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. He finally met with his parents three weeks after his arrest. The family requested that Ali be able to continue his education after they finalized the needed procedures and paid the fees, but authorities rejected the family’s request.
Ali was not allowed to meet with a lawyer nor given access to proper facilities to prepare for trial, but could only see the lawyer in the courtroom during his first hearing. He was one of 51 individuals sentenced as part of a mass trial on 3 November 2020. Ali was charged with 1- Joining a terrorist group, 2- Receiving funds and spending them on terrorist activities, 3- Receiving fireworks, storing them, and participating in detonating them, and 4- Initiating an intentional arson attack and training in manufacturing local weapons and explosives for use in this activity. Despite not being involved in any political groups and being only 15 years old at the time of trial, Ali was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Bahraini Dinars. A request for appeal has been submitted, and the hearing has been set for 11 January 2021. After the judgment was issued, Ali was transferred to the New Dry Dock Prison, where inmates under 21 are held. Although the family requested that Ali be able to continue his education and finalized the required procedures and payments, once he was transferred to Prison, the administration rejected the request without explaining the reasons.
At the beginning of September 2023, Ali began a hunger strike in protest of the government disregarding his request to enroll in the Nasser Institute inside Jau Prison to complete his high school education. After receiving promises from Officer Hamad Al-Thawadi, the responsible officer at the Nasser Center, to follow up on his request, he suspended his strike. On 12 September, Ali resumed his second hunger strike, protesting against the prison administration’s policy of procrastination and delay. He demanded a clear response to his request, which he had submitted since entering prison and for which he had not received a clear answer.
The treatment Ali has suffered at the hands of Bahraini authorities, from his arrest to the torture and mistreatment he endured during his enforced disappearance and eventually being charged as a minor in a mass trial, constitutes violations of international law, including the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all of which were ratified by Bahrain.
ADHRB calls on the authorities to end the violations against juvenile offenders and to work towards implementing the Juvenile Justice Reform Law, protecting them from mistreatment by releasing them, ensuring all their civil rights are upheld, and providing reparations. Furthermore, ADHRB urges the authorities to investigate allegations of torture in the Criminal Investigations Directorate to hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable and prevent further cases of maltreatment in Bahraini prisons.