Profile in Persecution: Fadhel Abbas Mohamed

Updated: Fadhel Abbas Mohamed, a Bahraini citizen from the village of Nuwaidrat working in the private sector, was 19 years old when Bahraini authorities arrested him at his home at dawn on 22 November 2021, without presenting any arrest or search warrant. During his detention, he was subjected to torture, enforced disappearance, deprivation of communication with his family, and denial of visits from them. He faced death threats and physical assault, and was convicted in an unfair trial based on confessions extracted under torture. Additionally, he was deprived of access to his lawyer during the interrogation period. Currently, he is serving a ten-year prison sentence in Jau Prison. On 30 August 2023, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published an opinion regarding the arbitrary detention of six Bahraini nationals, including Fadhel. In its opinion, the Working Group deemed their detention arbitrary and demanded their immediate and unconditional release. The Working Group called for compensation for the individuals, an investigation into the violations they endured, and holding the perpetrators accountable.


On 22 November 2021, at 6:00 A.M., riot police forces and plainclothes officers conducted a raid on Fadhel’s house while he was asleep. They scaled the walls of the house, broke a window to gain entry, and commanded him to open the door. The officers searched the living room and seized his mobile phone. Subsequently, they transported him to his previous home in the Nuwaidrat village. The officers meticulously searched the house, vandalized its contents, and scattered luggage on the floor. Fadhel was then taken by bus to his uncle’s café in Nuwaidrat, as reported by his mother, who was at the time unaware of the events unfolding. During the transfer, officers on the bus assaulted Fadhel, causing him to fall to the ground and sustain an injury to his hand. Following his arrival at his uncle’s café, the officers further moved him to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building.


On 23 November 2021, Fadhel called his family informing them that he was in the Central Investigation Directorate (CID). Simultaneously, the CID informed the family that they would be visiting their home. Upon their arrival, officers in civilian clothing seized the family’s only car. Officers dispersed throughout the house, and when Fadhel’s mother inquired about his whereabouts, they informed her that he was inside the car. However, when she requested to see him, their supervisor denied her request, asserting that Fadhel was not in the vehicle. Additionally, they confiscated Fadhel’s wallet. The following day, the officers agreed to the request for clothes for Fadhel but only accepted a single suit, refusing to take any hygiene products for him.


During his interrogation, Fadhel endured severe beatings, threats of rape, and electric shocks. He was coerced into signing prepared confessions under the threat of death, without being allowed to read them. Moreover, he experienced enforced disappearance for eight days throughout the interrogation period, managing to contact his family only twice during this time. Visits were denied under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was also denied access to his lawyer. On 30 November 2021, Fadhel was presented before the Public Prosecution Unit (PPO) without the presence of his attorney. He was compelled to adhere to the confessions he had previously signed during the interrogation period, under the threat of further torture. Officers closely monitored him from behind the door within the PPO to ensure his compliance with the charges against him and to inflict torture if he resisted confessing. During this period, the PPO accused Fadhel of joining a terrorist cell known as the “AlAshtar brigades,” possessing explosive devices, weapons, and ammunition, and receiving and delivering money from the said terrorist cell.


On the same day Fadhel appeared before the PPO, 30 November 2021, he was brought before a forensic pathologist. However, the doctor overlooked his hand injury and conducted only routine examinations typically performed on any detainee. The officers did not disclose to the doctor the injuries Fadhel had sustained due to torture. They compelled him to wear a black suit to conceal marks from torture and make him appear as if he were treated normally. The doctor asserted that Fadhel only had a G6PD deficiency and was not currently taking any medication.


Fadhel was not brought before a judge within 48 hours after arrest, was denied access to his lawyer, and was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for trial. Furthermore, he was unable to present evidence or challenge the evidence presented against him, and the confessions extracted from him under torture were utilized as evidence in his trial.


On 15 January 2023, the court sentenced Fadhel to 10 years in prison on charges of 1) joining a terrorist group (AlAshtar brigades), 2) possessing explosive devices, weapons, and ammunition, 3) training in the use of weapons and explosives, and 4) receiving and delivering money to and from the terrorist cell. Notably, Fadhel was not present when the ruling was delivered; only his lawyer attended the proceedings. 


On 15 January 2023, Fadhel appealed the ruling issued against him, and on 29 May 2023, the Court of Appeals rejected the appeal and upheld the initial ruling.


The Jau Prison administration denied Fadhel’s family visits to him, limiting communication to phone calls as the sole means of interaction. Recently, all forms of communication between Fadhel and his family, including phone calls, have ceased.


On 30 August 2023, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion concerning the arbitrary detention of six Bahraini nationals, including Fadhel. The Working Group deemed their detention arbitrary, citing warrantless arrests and exposure to torture, humiliation, and an unfair trial based on evidence obtained under duress. The experts called on the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release the individuals, provide compensation, investigate the violations they endured, and hold the perpetrators accountable.


Fadhel’s warrantless arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, unfair trial, and deprivation of communication represent a clear violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Degrading and Inhuman Treatment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), all of which Bahrain is a party to. Thus, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) urges the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Fadhel. Additionally, ADHRB calls for a thorough investigation into the allegations of arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance, and communication deprivation he endured in order to hold the perpetrators accountable, or at the very least conduct a fair retrial for him, leading to his release.