Profile in Persecution: Husain Mohamed Falah

Husain Mohamed Falah was a 17-year-old Bahraini minor and high school student when Bahraini authorities arrested him from his home on 15 December 2014 without presenting any arrest warrant. During his detention, he endured torture, sexual harassment, denial of attorney access during interrogation and trial, and an unfair trial. He is currently serving a life sentence in Jau Prison, facing religious discrimination, medical neglect, and being denied his rights to education and communication with his family.

On 15 December 2014, at 4:00 A.M., plainclothes officers arrived with a 16-passenger bus, an armored vehicle, and more than 10 Jeep cars, and conducted a forceful raid at Husain’s family house where they were sleeping. They broke the doors of the house and the garage, confiscated his identification card along with his phone, and took him on the bus to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building without providing any arrest warrant or reason behind his arrest. En route to the CID building, officers blindfolded Husain inside the bus and hit him on the head. On the same day at 6:00 A.M., Husain’s parents received a 4-second call from him, stating that he was in the CID building. Two days later, at 4:00 A.M., officers returned to Husain’s home, raided it, and filmed the raid with two cameras without submitting a search warrant They searched Husain’s room, focusing on his personal belongings. They confiscated an old phone he had that did not have a SIM card and was not working. On 19 December 2014, Husain was brought blindfolded near his home, to a location where Bahraini authorities claimed he participated in “rioting and the killing of a police corporal”.

At the CID building, Husain was interrogated for a week without the presence of a lawyer. CID officers tortured him by completely blindfolding him, stripping him of his clothes, forcing him to stand for extended periods with his hands cuffed, pouring hot water on him, and spitting on his face. Officers also subjected Husain to electric shocks, sexual harassment, and verbal abuse, and prevented him from contacting his parents. Subsequently, he confessed to the fabricated charges brought against him under torture.

Following his interrogation, Husain was brought on 22 December 2014 before the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), which subsequently ordered his detention for two months, and his lawyer was not allowed to attend. He was then transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center, where he endured further torture. On 24 December 2014, Husain’s family was able to visit him for the first time since his arrest.

Husain was not brought before a judge within 48 hours after arrest, was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trial, was denied access to his attorney before and during the court sessions, and was unable to present evidence or challenge the evidence presented against him. Furthermore, the court utilized the confessions extracted from him under torture as evidence against him in his trial. On 30 December 2015, Husain was sentenced to life imprisonment and deprivation of his Bahraini nationality after being convicted in a mass trial with 22 other defendants for 1) joining a terrorist cell to kill a police corporal on 8 December 2014, and 2) carrying out riots on 9 December 2014. Although Husain was transferred to the courtroom for the sentencing hearing, he was not allowed to enter and was forced to wait outside. Then the lawyer came out and informed the family of the judgment. His citizenship was reinstated on 27 April 2019, through a royal pardon. Husain appealed his sentence, and on 22 December 2016, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and upheld the initial verdict. Consequently, the Court of Cassation upheld the sentence on 5 June 2017.

Husain is currently serving his sentence in Jau Prison, enduring discriminatory treatment based on his belonging to the Shia religious sect and facing threats and deprivation of his rights by the prison officers from time to time on the pretext of taking revenge for the alleged murder of a policeman. In addition, he’s currently deprived of calling his family, experiencing issues within his eye retina that are getting worse as a result of medical negligence, and is denied his right to continue his university education. Husain’s family filed complaints to the Ombudsman, documenting the raid, torture, and eye conditions. The Ombudsman received these complaints and visited Husain with no result obtained.  This mistreatment and medical neglect prompted Husain to go on hunger strikes every now and then to protest against the prison’s poor status and the violations to which he was subjected.

Husain’s warrantless arrest, torture, sexual assault, denial of access to legal counsel during interrogations and trial, unfair trial, deprivation of his rights to education and communication, discriminatory treatment based on his belonging to the Shia sect, and medical negligence represent clear violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Degrading and Inhuman Treatment (CAT), 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). Furthermore, the violations he endured as a minor contravene the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Bahrain is also a party.

As such, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Husain. ADHRB also urges the Bahraini government to investigate the allegations of Husain’s arbitrary arrest as a minor, torture, denial of attorney access during interrogations and trial, deprivation of his rights to education and communication, discriminatory treatment based on his belonging to the Shia sect, and medical neglect while holding the perpetrators accountable. At the very least, ADHRB calls for a fair retrial for him under the Restorative Justice Law for Children, leading to his release. Additionally, it urges the Jau Prison administration to promptly provide appropriate healthcare for Husain, holding it responsible for any possible deterioration in his health. Finally, ADHRB calls on the Jau Prison administration to immediately grant Husain his right to regularly call his family and allow him to continue his university studies.