Profile in Persecution: Husain Abdulla Mohamed (Juma’a)

The Bahraini citizen Husain Abdulla Mohamed (Juma’a) was arbitrarily arrested from his home when he was 20 years old. He was subjected to torture, enforced disappearance, medical neglect, and an unfair trial during his detention. He is currently serving a life sentence in what was known as the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case, in which he was among those for whom an opinion was issued by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, demanding his release. Currently, he is detained at Jau Prison.

On 10 November 2015 at 2:30 am, about 20 riot police officers, along with other officers from the Ministry of Interior (MoI), raided Husain’s home. They searched the house and arrested him without presenting arrest or search warrants. The officers then transferred Husain to the MoI’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for interrogation, where he was able to contact his family to tell them about his whereabouts, but the call was cut off a few seconds after it began. After this call, Husain forcibly disappeared from his family for a month, and his news was cut. He was detained at the CID for two months, during which the authorities subjected him to physical and psychological torture.

During the interrogation, which took place without the presence of a lawyer, the police officers insulted him, beat him, and subjected him to electric shocks. As a result, his teeth were broken, and he suffered from back and foot pain. Husain asked that a doctor be allowed to examine him, but the authorities rejected his request. The authorities also prohibited anyone from visiting him during his interrogation, including his lawyer.

On 15 May 2018, during the mass trial of what was known as the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case, which lacked the minimum standards for a fair trial, Husain was sentenced to life imprisonment and stripped of his citizenship on charges of: 1) Attempting to detonate a fake bomb and participating in terrorist activities, including joining a terrorist cell, 2) Possessing and manufacturing explosives, 3) Financing terrorism, 4) Receiving weapons training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and 5) Destroying privately owned goods.

He had also previously been sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to detonate a fake bomb. On 28 January 2019, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling against Husain. On 20 April 2019, King Hamad Bin Isa AlKhalifa issued a royal order restoring the citizenship of 551 Bahrainis who had previously been stripped of their citizenship, including Husain. On 1 July 2019, the Court of Cassation upheld his life imprisonment sentence, thus Husain had exhausted all remedies under Bahraini law.

When Husain was detained in the Dry Dock Detention Center, he was also subjected to torture after his sentence was issued. He was forced to strip naked, and officers threw objects at him. He was also subjected to solitary confinement.

Husain’s family submitted several complaints to the MOI Ombudsman regarding his arrest, solitary confinement, torture, and denial of medical care, but it didn’t respond to any of these complaints. It merely responded to one of them by transferring it to the Military Courts Administration, as it raised suspicion of a criminal crime. However, there has been no response since then.

On 14 October 2019, five UN Special Procedures offices sent an allegation letter to Bahrain concerning the trial of the so-called “Zulfiqar Brigades case. In this letter, the Special Procedures Offices expressed concern about the enforced disappearance and torture of those convicted in this case, compelling them to sign false confessions, depriving them of medical care, and engaging in unfair trial practices. This includes absentia hearings and denying defendants the right to attorney access, as well as using confessions obtained under torture to convict individuals of terrorist crimes. The letter also considered that the Ombudsman is not fully independent, which hinders the possibility of properly investigating concerns related to human rights violations due to its reliance on the MOI for funding and authority and on the Special Investigation Unit for allegations, as the Ombudsman has a low record of referrals to prosecution in only 5% of cases of violations committed by state agents. The letter also expressed concern about the Ombudsman’s negligence of cases of police abuse, contributing to fostering an environment of impunity.

On 15 May 2020, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published an opinion concerning the cases of twenty Bahraini citizens convicted by the Bahraini Fourth High Criminal Court in the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case, including Husain, where the group considered their detention arbitrary due to their warrantless arrest and their exposure to torture to force them into signing false confessions, in addition to their exposure to enforced disappearance, denial of medical care, as well as unfair trials that included hearings in absentia, denying defendants the right to access a lawyer, and the use of forced confessions to convict defendants of terrorist crimes. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention requested the Bahraini government to take immediate action, by immediately and unconditionally releasing these convicts, ensuring that they receive medical care, granting them the right to obtain compensation and reparation, and expunging their criminal records in accordance with international law. The Working Group also urged the Bahraini government to conduct a full and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary detention of these defendants. Although more than three years have passed since this opinion was issued, Bahrain has not yet implemented any of these recommendations.

On 28 September 2022, an audio recording of Husain was circulated on social media in which he spoke about being deprived of regular diabetes treatment, leading to irregular sugar levels. He also talked about the difficulties he faced with the provided meals, which did not align with his health condition. He conveyed his struggles to the prison clinic physician and the officers, urging them to provide suitable meals for his health condition and administer insulin doses regularly to prevent health setbacks. However, his repeated requests were ignored by the doctor and officers.

Husain’s arbitrary detention, denial of access to a lawyer, torture, and subjection to solitary confinement, enforced disappearance, medical neglect, and an unfair mass trial – which included hearings in absentia during which confessions extracted under torture were used in which he was sentenced in terrorist cases – constitute a violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which Bahrain is a party. Accordingly, ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by immediately and unconditionally releasing Husain and by investigating all allegations of his arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, subjection to an unfair trial, solitary confinement, enforced disappearance, and medical neglect, while holding the perpetrators accountable, or at the very least holding a fair retrial leading to his release. ADHRB also raises the alarm about the deterioration of Husain’s health condition due to medical negligence, especially with regard to his irregular blood sugar level due to not providing him with regular treatment and depriving him of appropriate food for his health condition. ADHRB calls on Bahrain to urgently provide appropriate treatment for Husain, holding it responsible for any further deterioration in his health condition.