Profile in Persecution: Mohamed Ali Adel Maki

Updated: In 2019, Mohamed Ali Adel Maki, a 15-year-old Bahraini student, was arbitrarily arrested without an arrest warrant. During his repeated arrests, Mohamed Ali has faced multiple human rights violations during his detention, including torture, enforced disappearance, and unfair trial. He has been accused of multiple charges and is currently serving his sentence in the Dry Dock Detention Center. After the enactment of the 2021 Restorative Justice Law for Children and the Protection of Children from Mistreatment, Mohamed Ali has undertaken several hunger strikes, demanding a retrial according to this law.

On 31 January 2019, Mohamed Ali Adel Maki was arrested for the first time at the age of 15 years old. He was playing with his friends in the Shakhura area, and while he was tying his shoelace in a corner away from them, riot police snatched him by his hands and placed him in a jeep. They took him to Al-Badii police station, where he was held overnight. He was then taken to Hamad Town Police Station. After that, he was transferred to the AlQalaa Center and finally held in the Dry Dock detention prison for more than a month, after which he was released on bail of 200 dinars.

On 23 November 2019, Mohamed Ali was in the car with his mother heading to buy some necessities in the evening before going to his grandfather’s house to spend the night. Suddenly, they were surrounded by civilian cars, who had been watching and tracking them. Mohamed Ali was arrested by officers in civilian clothing from the Ministry of the Interior and intelligence services. He was handcuffed and put in a small car where there were other detained youths from other areas. A plain-clothes officer then returned, searched the car, and confiscated his telephone. When his mother asked why and where they were taking him, the officer told her to the Central Investigation Department (CID) but did not say why.

After his arrest, Mohamed Ali was transferred with the rest of the youth who were detained to a park near the Saar area, an unknown place where no one could see them. They were stripped naked, blindfolded, tortured, and beaten in sensitive areas to force them to confess. They were then transferred to the CID. Mohamed Ali was not brought promptly before a judge. Afterward, he was transferred to Jau Prison, building 15 (an NSA investigative building), where he was again interrogated and tortured. He was blindfolded, stripped naked, beaten on sensitive areas with clubs and rods, electrocuted, and placed in a very cold room. After a full week of torture, during which he was not allowed to speak to his lawyer, written confessions were presented to him, which he signed without knowledge of their contents. Following the coerced confession, he was transferred to the prosecution and then to the Dry Dock Detention Center. After several days, he contacted his parents. He appeared very tired and did not know his location, but he said that he was in solitary confinement.

Mohamed Ali was charged in multiple cases including joining a terrorist group whose purpose is disrupting the provisions of the Constitution and laws and preventing State institutions and public authorities from carrying out their activities; receiving the necessary funds to support them and finance their activities; receiving and storing explosives in separate locations within the Kingdom of Bahrain and using them for their activities with the aim of causing chaos and stirring up sedition; intentional arson by setting fire to an ATM room owned by the National Bank of Bahrain; collecting, giving and delivering funds and carrying out operations for the benefit of a terrorist group; and belonging to this group. On 3 November 2020, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of one hundred thousand dinars, and an obligation to pay the value of the damages worth 51,400 dinars. On 11 April 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment. On 12 July 2021, the Court of Cassation upheld the judgment.

Mohamed Ali is currently imprisoned at Dry Dock Detention Center, Ward 17. He suffers from a blood disorder called thalassemia, as well as an allergy in the eye. Mohamed Ali launched a humanitarian appeal through a call posted on social media to benefit from Law No. (4) of 2021, or the restorative justice law for children to protect them from abuse. His family submitted a request at the prosecution office to replace the sentence, and Mohamed Ali’s name was registered, but they have not received any answer or action yet. His family also requested the prison administration to allow its son to continue his studies in prison. He was able to take his exams, but he and his friends were constantly harassed by the prison’s administration while studying, as it only provided them with books shortly before the exams. One time, when he asked an Egyptian monitor for a pen while he was taking an exam, the monitor began to provoke him, prompting him to leave the class and submit a blank exam paper, as any objection made would result in the detainee being expelled from the room and subjected to beating. His parents have submitted a new request for him to complete his studies, but to date, no response has been received.

On 8 October 2023, Mohamed Ali began a hunger strike to demand again his right to a retrial before the Children Restorative Justice Court, and for the application of the Restorative Justice Law to himself, as he was sentenced at the age of sixteen, and to all minors. Despite receiving multiple promises from the prison administration regarding the application of this law in his case, no progress was made. Since his arrest and up to the present day, he has suffered injustice and has been deprived of his right to continue his education. He has faced obstacles while attempting to pursue education within the prison. Nevertheless, he desires to complete his high school and university education, thus demanding to benefit from the Restorative Justice Law for Children. Despite the fact that the right to education is guaranteed to all children by the constitution and does not cease during detention for any reason, the Bahraini authorities have deprived him of this right since his arrest and throughout his detention. He also demands that child rights organizations consider his case, as he believes he has been deprived of his most basic legal rights.

On 10 October 2023, Mohamed Ali once again requested Ebrahim Al-Fadala, the Public Prosecutor’s representative, to apply the Restorative Justice Law for Children to his case. However, instead of responding to his demands, he was surprised by Al-Fadala threatening him, saying, “You’ve been sentenced to 10 years, while it should have been a death sentence!”

Mohamed Ali’s warrantless arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, and unfair trial go against the Convention against Torture and Other 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 violations that he faced despite being a minor violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) sounds the alarm over the threat to issue sentences that could extend to the death penalty for him and other children for crimes they allegedly committed as minors. Also, ADHRB sounds the alarm over the continued danger posed to his health by his ongoing hunger strike. ADHRB calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release Mohamed Ali, as he has not been granted a fair trial and has been deprived of proper legal procedures, and to investigate the allegations of torture, enforced disappearance, and ill-treatment while holding the perpetrators accountable, and to respect his rights as a child and provide him compensation for all the violations he has faced in prison, or at least, to respond to his demand for retrial under the Restorative Justice Law for Children, leading to his release.