Profile in Persecution: Muntadher Fawzi Salman

Muntadher Fawzi Salman was a 17-year-old Bahraini high school student when Bahraini authorities arbitrarily arrested him from his home on 22 December 2016 without presenting an arrest warrant. During detention, he endured torture, enforced disappearance, denial of access to legal counsel during interrogations, unfair trials, and medical neglect. He is currently serving a nearly 80-year prison sentence in Jau Prison.

On 22 December 2016, riot police, commandos, and plainclothes officers raided the home of Muntadher’s friend in Bani Jamra, where Muntadher was residing, at night while they were sleeping. They beat him and apprehended him without presenting any arrest warrant. Subsequently, they transferred him to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) Building, where his news was cut for a day. He managed to contact his family the following day, informing them that he was at the CID Building. The family received another call from him on the same day, informing them that he was at the Roundabout 17 Police Station.

Before his arrest, Muntadher was pursued by Bahraini authorities for a year and a half, and his family received several summonses for him. Additionally, he had received a 3-year prison sentence in absentia for allegedly burning a Jeep.

During Muntadher’s interrogation, he was transferred multiple times between the CID Building and the Roundabout 17 Police Station. On 24 December 2016, he once again forcibly disappeared for 14 days, leaving his family unaware of his whereabouts. CID officers and Roundabout 17 Police Station officers tortured Muntadher. They beat him in sensitive areas and on his face and ears. Additionally, they forced him to stand for long hours with his hands tied behind his back and compelled him to sleep in extremely cold cells. They also insulted and threatened him, and denied him access to a lawyer. Due to the torture inflicted upon him, Muntadher developed severe ear pain that persisted for two years. Following this torture, he was coerced into signing confession papers without being aware of their content. 

On 5 January 2017, Muntadher was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. On 11 January 2017, twenty days after his arrest, his family was allowed to visit him for the first time at the Dry Dock Detention Center. 

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

On 16 June 2016, Muntadher was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison as part of a mass trial involving 43 defendants. The charges against him included 1) gathering and rioting, 2) manufacturing explosive devices, 3) arson, 4) negligent destruction, and 5) attempted murder. On 21 May 2018, the court imposed an additional three-year prison sentence on him, along with the revocation of his citizenship. Subsequently, his citizenship was reinstated through a royal pardon. Muntadher later received additional verdicts, bringing the total of his sentence to nearly 80 years. However, the dates, charges, and details of these subsequent verdicts remain unknown.

Currently held in Jau Prison, Muntadher is subjected to insults by officers and denied proper treatment for stomach problems he has.  His family filed a complaint with the Ombudsman regarding his torture; however, no results have been obtained.

In August 2023, Muntadher participated in a collective hunger strike with around 800 prisoners in Jau Prison to protest mistreatment and inadequate healthcare. This hunger strike persisted for 40 days, ending in September 2023 with a promise from the prison administration to improve conditions inside the prison.

Muntadher’s warrantless arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, denial of access to legal counsel during interrogations, unfair trials, and medical neglect represent clear violations 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). 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 Muntadher. ADHRB also urges the Bahraini government to investigate the allegations of arbitrary arrest as a minor, torture, enforced disappearance, denial of attorney access during interrogations, and medical neglect. ADHRB further advocates for the Bahraini government to provide compensation for the injuries he suffered due to torture and hold 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 Muntadher, holding it responsible for any further deterioration in his health condition.