Profile in Persecution: Mohamed Hameed AlDaqqaq

Mohamed Hameed AlDaqqaq is a Bahraini citizen who was arbitrarily arrested when he was 23 years old near his home. He was subjected to torture, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, medical neglect, an unfair trial, and ill-treatment during his detention. He is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence on political charges. Mohamed suffers from many diseases, most notably sickle cell anemia and the associated pain. His continuous deprivation of health care for years in Jau Prison has exacerbated his suffering, and his health has reached a perilous stage due to the progression of the disease. On 4 March  2019, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion deeming Mohammed’s detention arbitrary, calling on the government of Bahrain to immediately release him, expunging all his criminal records, and granting him the necessary compensation. On 18 September 2019, four United Nations Special Procedures offices published an allegation letter to the Government of Bahrain regarding the denial of adequate medical care to Mohammed, expressing concern at the allegations of his torture and ill-treatment, deteriorating health condition, denial of appropriate health care, and retaliation against him for peacefully protesting inside the prison.


On 5 January 2015, riot police forces apprehended Mohamed near his home without presenting an arrest warrant. Officers took Mohamed to the AlHoora Police Station after his arrest, where they held him in solitary confinement for two days. On the second day, they allowed him to call his family. He wasn’t brought before a judge within 48 hours of his arrest. After his third day at the station, officers transferred Mohamed to the Dry Dock Detention Center, and after 45 days, the authorities transferred him to Jau Prison.


While in Jau Prison, guards subjected Mohamed to various forms of torture. They dubbed him the “new guy,” making him responsible for cleaning the toilets as a means of punishment. Prison guards brutally beat and insulted him, including shaving half of his head and facial hair. They stripped him naked and poured cold water on him, leaving him in the cold air. The guards also forced Mohamed to crawl into a pool of water contaminated with human waste, alternating between making Mohamed crawl to one end of the room and then dragging him from his legs to the other end before making him crawl again.


On 5 March 2014, that is, before his arrest, Mohamed was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on charges of arson and intentionally endangering a private means of transportation. On 19 March 2015, he was sentenced to six months in jail on charges of gathering, inciting a riot, and possessing flammable and explosive materials. On 7 May 2015, he was convicted for escaping from prison, and on 22 November 2015, he was sentenced for arson and criminal assembly. His total sentence initially amounted to 21 years before it was reduced to 19 years after the appeal. His trial relied on evidence extracted from him under torture, and he was denied access to a lawyer during the interrogation period.


Prison authorities have consistently disregarded Mohamed’s right to health as well. Mohamed suffers from sickle-cell anemia and a skin condition. He was born with one kidney, and due to the pain stemming from his sickle-cell anemia, he had to undergo a splenectomy surgery. This condition also requires him to take medication for the rest of his life, but the authorities have deprived him of that medication despite the seriousness of his situation.


On multiple occasions, Mohamed has suffered from pain attacks in detention. In response, guards have delayed taking him to the clinic, if they even take him at all. The authorities have also routinely refused to take Mohamed to the periodic examinations required for his condition, and they still prevent him from obtaining his proper medication. This neglect has resulted in him being hospitalized for 45 days on two different occasions in 2016 and 2018.


In April 2018, medical negligence led to two health setbacks for Mohamed, during which he experienced severe pain. On both occasions, he was subjected to ill-treatment by the medical staff, including the denial of medication (accompanied by accusations of addiction) and being slapped on the face. In both instances, the doctors only administered low-grade painkillers to Mohamed and refused to provide medication to treat his sickle-cell anemia.


In 2018, Mohamed also experienced a skin disease on his wrists due to guards severely handcuffing him, and his condition worsened as a result of the unsanitary conditions in Jau Prison. He also suffered from a tooth infection resulting from the extraction of a wisdom tooth under local anesthesia, as he was not given any painkillers or antibiotics after the operation. After more than a week of tooth pain, he suffered complete swelling of the face and severe inflammation, which led to him suffering from a severe pain attack resulting from sickle-cell anemia. After prolonged delays, he was transferred to Salmaniya Hospital 12 hours after the pain attack, where the doctor administered oral medication as punishment after he complained about the severity of the pain he was experiencing, and another doctor beat him.


The medical personnel and prison authorities have denied Mohamed proper treatment for his health problems, exacerbating his health condition. Additionally, Mohamed has reported poor living conditions in Jau Prison, including inadequate amounts of clean water or healthy food.


Mohamed’s family submitted complaints to the National Institution for Human Rights and to the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman regarding his 45-day stay in the hospital. This was due to the prison administration’s refusal to transfer him to a hospital specializing in hereditary blood diseases, depriving him of medications appropriate to his health condition. Additionally, he was denied medication for his skin disease, which worsened as a result of his hands being tied with iron handcuffs. Unfortunately, these complaints did not yield any results.


In August 2018, there was no news of Mohamed for more than two weeks after he was taken to the hospital for surgery. In October 2018, he complained in a call with his family about being deprived of the pain-relieving medication for the attacks of sickle cell disease that the doctor supervising his treatment at the military hospital had prescribed to him. This deprivation led to frequent episodes of sickle cell disease and an increase in the severity of the pain affecting his bones. Additionally, he was deprived of medication for skin allergies. Mohamed also complained about being subjected to nutritional neglect after the prison administration ignored the doctor’s recommendations to provide a meal appropriate for his medical condition.


In January 2019, Mohamed was transported by his fellow prisoners to the prison clinic after suffering for two weeks from a bout of pain resulting from sickle cell disease. This pain hindered his ability to stand, causing a lack of oxygen and a further deterioration in his health condition. The prison administration’s delay in transferring him regularly to the clinic contributed to the escalation of his health issues. The doctor at the clinic prescribed only a regular pain reliever and intravenous nutrients. Due to the lack of appropriate treatment, these seizures persisted, leading to multiple visits to the clinic. During one of these visits, Mohamed was physically assaulted and insulted by a nurse.


On 4 March 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion on the arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the cases of five Bahrainis, including Mohamed. The Working Group considered the detention of these individuals arbitrary, calling on the Government of Bahrain to immediately release them, expunge all their criminal records, and grant them the necessary compensation. The Working Group found that Al-Daqqaq’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I and II, in violation of Articles 3, 9, and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This violation was attributed to the lack of an arrest warrant, lack of access to legal counsel, and his conviction in absentia.


In April 2019, Mohamed was denied visits and exposure to sunlight outside his cell after being transferred to solitary confinement for reasons unknown. His family, intending to visit him on 8 April 2019, arrived at the prison only to be informed by officers that their son was unable to leave his cell due to his transfer to solitary confinement ‘for unknown reasons.’ Additionally, Mohamed’s news was cut during his participation with fellow prisoners in Jau Prison in their hunger strike protesting mistreatment in August 2019. 


On 18 September 2019, four UN Special Procedures offices issued an allegation letter to the Government of Bahrain concerning the denial of adequate medical care to prisoners in Jau Prison, including Mohamed. Experts expressed concern about allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, particularly the deterioration of their health and the restrictions on their access to appropriate healthcare while in detention. The experts also voiced their apprehension regarding the measures taken by the Jau Prison administration in retaliation against prisoners peacefully protesting inside the prison, deeming it a violation of the right to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly.


In March 2020, Mohamed complained of abdominal pain, which he believed was caused by the quantity and quality of meals served. As his condition worsened, he was transferred to Salmaniya Hospital Internal Medicine Department, where various tests and X-rays were conducted. The prison administration, citing the COVID-19 outbreak, prevented Mohamed from visiting the doctor. Instead, the doctor contacted Mohamed’s family and informed them that their son was suffering from a stomach infection, prescribing an urgent antibiotic to prevent a prolonged sickness. Three days later, Mohamed’s mother discovered that the doctor had not spoken directly to her son. Concerned, she contacted the prison administration, and after several attempts, Mohamed was able to talk with the doctor via video call. Mohamed also complained to another doctor in the prison clinic about pain in his joints and bones. The doctor prescribed nutritional supplements and calcium, and Mohamed’s family purchased the necessary medications, delivering them to the prison administration. However, two weeks later, Mohamed’s mother learned from one of his prison colleagues that Mohamed had not yet received the medications.


On 1 July 2020, Mohamed was beaten and pepper sprayed in the face by a police officer in prison until he fainted, causing his health to deteriorate. His colleagues had to bang on the cell door to save him, and he was subsequently transported by ambulance to the hospital. Following this incident, Mohamed forcibly disappeared for about a month. Despite his family’s repeated attempts to contact the Prisoner Affairs Department, they received no response.

On 1 October 2020, the Jau Prison administration imposed restrictions on detainees’ right to contact their families. They were only allowed to call five designated family phone numbers, with the requirement to specify the kinship of the owner of each number. Moreover, the calls were limited to a maximum of ten minutes and charged at a much higher rate than usual. These measures led detainees, including Mohamed, to reject the restrictions, prompting them to go on strike for more than three weeks in protest against these limitations.

In August 2023, when Mohamed participated in the collective hunger strike involving more than 800 detainees in Jau Prison, protesting their dire prison conditions, his blood sugar level plummeted, and he fainted multiple times. Subsequently, he was transferred to the prison’s clinic. He was then moved to a cold room, and placed in a bed facing the air conditioner. In this very cold room, he experienced a pain attack resulting from his sickle cell disease. Following this, he was transferred for treatment.

On 22 October 2023, Mohamed was denied contact for ten days. During this period, he suffered from inflammation in his toe caused by salt accumulation in his body, which significantly hindered his ability to walk. They initially conducted an X-ray on him, but it turned out that he had to be transferred to the Military Hospital, where he received an antibiotic. After three days of hospitalization, his blood cell count decreased, necessitating a blood transfusion. He was discharged from the hospital on 10 November 2023.

On 11 November 2023, his toe became inflamed again, at a much higher degree than before. He was transferred to the hospital the following day, where he was again denied contact for ten days. His mother filed a complaint with the Ombudsman, seeking information on his whereabouts, asking for permission to conduct a video call, and the provision of proper treatment. The Ombudsman responded that he was in the Military Hospital without providing further details, without giving Mohamed the opportunity to contact his family.

On 22 November 2023, Mohamed conducted a video call with his mother for the first time since 12 November 2023, revealing that he was transferred to the hospital for gout and exacerbated inflammation in his toe due to salt accumulation. He also told her that he was drinking contaminated water provided by the prison administration. He mentioned in this call that he had just been discharged from the hospital, where he was prescribed a new treatment.

From the time of his arrest until today, Mohamed’s family has continued their efforts to highlight the seriousness of the violations to which their son is exposed. They do so through appeals published on social media, urging intervention to save their son’s life from the policy of medical negligence and systematic forced disappearance.

Mohamed’s arbitrary detention, denial of access to a lawyer, torture, subjection to solitary confinement, forced disappearance, and medical neglect affecting his deteriorating health, along with an unfair trial in absentia and another trial where confessions extracted under torture were used, as well as exposure to reprisal, constitute violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 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.  Therefore, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by immediately and unconditionally releasing Mohamed 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 – including Jau Prison doctors who contribute to the mistreatment of prisoners and evade the responsibilities of their profession – accountable, or at the very least holding a fair retrial leading to his release. ADHRB also raises concern about the serious deterioration in Mohamed’s health condition due to medical negligence and denial of medical care, especially the failure to provide appropriate treatment for the sickle cell disease he suffers from. ADHRB urges Bahrain to provide suitable treatment for Mohamed while holding it responsible for any additional deterioration in his health condition.