Profile in Persecution: Mohamed Jaafar Mohamed Ali (AlShamali)

Mohamed Jaafar Mohamed Ali (AlShamali) was a 15-year-old Bahraini child and school student when he was arbitrarily arrested from his home on 15 July 2012. He was subjected to torture, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, medical neglect, an unfair trial, reprisals, and ill-treatment. Additionally, he was denied education, access to healthy food, sufficient access to water, family visits, and the ability to pray during his detention. He is currently held in Jau Prison, serving a 21-year and 6-month prison sentence.


On 15 July 2012, security vehicles surrounded Mohamed’s house and the entire neighborhood. Masked plainclothes officers, armed and equipped with a searchlight, raided the home without presenting an arrest or search warrant. They conducted a search and apprehended Mohamed. Subsequently, he was taken to the Dawwar 17 police station, where he underwent interrogation and forcibly disappeared for 18 days.


During his interrogation at the Dawwar 17 police station, Mohamed endured severe physical and psychological torture inflicted by the General Security Forces. They kicked him on his chest until he lost consciousness, stripped him naked, slapped him, spat on him, and placed him on an iron bed in a very cold cell. Officers placed iron restraints on his hands and legs, forced him to move between two corners, walk barefoot, and sexually harassed him. They beat his head and submerged it in water, forced him down an overflowing toilet, and extinguished cigarettes in his mouth. At one point, they even put him in a garbage bin. Each time he walked, officers were beating him and sending him to solitary confinement without reason. They threw his clothes in the cell corridor, instructing detainees to step on them, and prevented interaction by punishing anyone who spoke with him with solitary confinement. False rumors of his death were spread. Due to this torture, he suffers from chronic headaches, chest pain, eye, head, and ear injuries, and has lost hearing in his right ear. A head wound resulting from torture was sewn four times until the doctor refused to continue due to the risk to his life. Without treatment, he is at risk of losing eyesight. Following this brutal torture, Mohamed was coerced into giving a false confession related to assaulting a man from another sect and damaging his vehicle.


When brought before the judge at the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), he denied the charges and, in an attempt to show evidence of torture, removed his clothes to reveal the marks on his body. However, the judge ignored the torture marks and sentenced Mohamed to six months imprisonment and a fine, all without the presence of a lawyer and without notifying his family. Eighteen days after his arrest, he finally contacted his mother, informing her that he was held at the Dry Dock Detention Center, had undergone interrogation, and appeared before a judge in the PPO. Mohamed appealed his sentence and was later found innocent, but the appeal ruling was issued after he had already completed his sentence. 


After completing his sentence, he was not released; instead, he was taken back to the Dawwar 17 police station. There, the center’s director slapped him for denying the charges brought against him before the judge. Subsequently, he endured further torture at the Dawwar 17 police station in an attempt to coerce a confession. Following this, he was transported to the Dry Dock Detention Center in relation to a second case.


On 21 March 2013, the court convicted Mohamed of the following charges: 1) attempted murder, 2) burning a Jeep car and tires, throwing Molotov cocktails, and 3) obstructing security personnel from performing their duties. As a result, the court initially sentenced him to 15 years of imprisonment and fined. Mohamed appealed his sentence, leading to the Court of Appeals reducing it to 10 years of imprisonment. He further appealed to the Court of Cassation, which affirmed the sentence.


On 10 March 2015, a prison protest occurred in Jau Prison. Subsequently, riot police deployed tear gas and birdshot in close quarters to subdue the inmates, after which they were led into courtyards where they were collectively beaten and humiliated. Following this, the prisoners were deprived of food for several days and prevented from bathing for several weeks. It is noteworthy that a significant portion of the inmates who faced torture did not participate in the protest. Mohamed, who was accused of involvement in the protest, experienced torture, injuries, and forced disappearance in its aftermath. He was convicted of the following charges: 1) incitement, 2) assault on security personnel and obstructing their work, and 3) vandalism and destruction of the contents and facilities of the Jau Prison building. As a result, he received another 15 years of imprisonment, which was later reduced to 10 years after an appeal. The appeal ruling was subsequently upheld by the Court of Cassation.


Mohamed repeatedly experienced medical neglect for his eczema condition, regularly receiving unhealthy food in insufficient quantities and being denied adequate access to water. In April 2017, following a complaint submitted by Mohamed’s mother to the Ombudsman regarding the denial of medical treatment for his eczema, prison officers restrained him to the prison gate for three days instead of providing the necessary treatment. Additionally, they filed a complaint against him. On 19 June 2017, while visiting Mohamed, his family noticed blisters on his head, face, and fingers due to poor hygiene caused by a lack of showers for a month due to water cuts. He informed them that he and his fellow detainees were enduring harsh treatment, confined to their cells, and subjected to degrading inspections. During these inspections, prison officers intentionally touched private areas of their bodies and molested them when entering and exiting the prison yard. Mohamed also revealed that prisoners expressing anger were beaten or hung on doors, and officers falsely claimed that the phones were broken, shutting them down for a full month. He further indicated that there were eye and face injuries among detainees, some of whom were kicked in their genitals.


On 28 November 2017, Mohamed received a three-year prison sentence for insulting a public employee, which was later reduced to one year and a half after an appeal. This adjustment brought the total length of his sentence to 21 years and 6 months of imprisonment. Following this, he was transferred to Jau Prison without his parents’ knowledge, and for a week after the transfer, he was not permitted any outside contact. Subsequently, he reported inadequate detention conditions, including a lack of warm winter clothes and being compelled to take cold showers.


Following his second and third sentences, Mohamed endured repeated torture, assaults, insults, threats, solitary confinement, forced disappearances, denial of medical care, visits, and calls, as well as reprisals and mistreatment. Additionally, he was prohibited from praying. Furthermore, personal items such as his clothes, blanket, towel, and robe – brought by his mother based on the dermatologist’s recommendation for eczema control – were destroyed. Consequently, his mother filed several complaints with the Ombudsman, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), and the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) concerning these violations. Unfortunately, none of these complaints resulted in any tangible outcomes.


On 9 July 2018, water cuts occurred in various buildings of Jau Prison, initiated by the deliberate delay of prison authorities in repairing and maintaining the plumbing. These water cuts persisted for more than a month, with some lasting for 36 consecutive hours. Victims, including Mohamed, reported that these cuts affected both drinking water and water for bathing and toilet facilities. To cope, they filled bottles during brief periods of water supply to use for ablution and washing. The lack of consistent access to water contributed to unhygienic conditions, resulting in the spread of disease and skin conditions. Mohamed reported suffering from severe burning sensations in his body and excretion of fluids due to untreated eczema. The condition was exacerbated by the lack of hygiene, and the prison administration neglected and postponed his need for treatment.


In August 2018, Mohamed’s mother stated that her son had been deprived of education since his arrest, despite the family paying the education fees to the prison administration each year. Although he was later permitted to continue his high school education within the prison, he was denied enrollment in university under the pretext that the prison administration had selected a specific number of students.


In May 2019, during the month of Ramadan, many detainees in Jau Prison, including Mohamed, experienced food poisoning due to the subpar quality of the food provided to them. The prisoners endured severe stomach pain and intense diarrhea, making their fasting even more challenging.


Mohamed has been denied family visits for over a year. His family last visited him on 28 July 2022, when his father and brother were permitted to see him. However, they denied entry to his mother, stating that she “did not take the COVID-19 vaccine.” Despite presenting the officer with a negative PCR result from one day before the visit, he still refused her entry. As a result, she is demanding the right to visit her son, as the last time she saw him was more than three years ago, before the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, Mohamed has been denied the right to make a video call with his mother since July 2023.


In August 2023, Mohamed took part in a collective hunger strike along with over 800 detainees in Jau Prison, protesting their harsh prison conditions. As a result, his blood sugar level plummeted.


Mohamed’s arbitrary detention when he was a minor, denial of access to a lawyer during the interrogation period, torture, solitary confinement, forced disappearance, denial of family visits and video calls with his family, hindered education, inadequate food, limited access to water, and the restriction of the right to pray, combined with an unfair trial, exposure to reprisals, and medical neglect, constitute violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), 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. ADHRB further calls for a thorough investigation into all allegations of his arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, unfair trial, solitary confinement, enforced disappearance, denial of family visits, education, prayer, adequate food, proper access to water, and medical neglect, while compensating for Mohamed and holding the perpetrators accountable, or at the very least holding a fair retrial leading to his release. ADHRB urges Bahrain to permit Mohamed to receive family visits, particularly from his mother, who has been unable to visit him for more than three years. ADHRB also calls for allowing him to make video calls with his family, pursue a university education, and receive healthy food. Additionally, ADHRB insists that Bahrain provides suitable medical treatment for Mohamed, holding the country responsible for any further deterioration in his health condition.