Profile in Persecution: Salman Maki Ali

Salman Maki Ali was a 15-year-old Bahraini student and minor when Bahraini authorities arbitrarily arrested him on 21 October 2014 from the street without presenting an arrest warrant.  During detention, he endured torture, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, denial of access to legal counsel, unfair trials based on confessions extracted under torture, sectarian-based insults, and medical neglect. He is currently serving a 27-year prison sentence in Jau Prison on politically motivated charges.

On 21 October 2014, at around 9:45 P.M., masked plainclothes officers, aided by a number of security forces, arrested Salman and two others on the main street in the Markuban area of Sitra, where they were setting up Ashura banners with a group of young men. As Salman was near Sahara Studio, two civilian cars passed by him and the group, from which masked officers in civilian clothes and security forces emerged, chasing them on the street before apprehending Salman. Simultaneously, they beat, kicked, insulted, and cursed him. Subsequently, they transported him and his friends on a bus to the Sitra area, where they seated him in the front seat, subjected him to psychological pressure and beatings, and demanded he guide them to a relative’s house. Furthermore, Salman and his friends were taken to al-Bandar (the coast guard in Sitra), where they were threatened that if they didn’t confess, they would be tortured. Following this, they were transferred to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building.

On the same day after his arrest, the family was unaware of their son’s location. His mother visited the Sitra Police Station, Isa Town Police Station, and Nabi Saleh Island Police Station, seeking information about his whereabouts, but received no information. On the morning of the second day, she went to the CID, where officers took her information, but she still received no response. Salman’s family continued to search for him by visiting the CID, the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), and the court, yet they received no response. Three days after his arrest, on 24 October 2014, Salman’s family was surprised when they saw a news in the state media and a statement from the Ministry of Interior, stating that their son was accused of terrorist crimes, primarily the case of burning the car of parliamentary election candidate, MP Sheikh Majid AlAsfour.

During Salman’s interrogation, he was transferred multiple times between the CID building and the PPO before being transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. At the CID, the detainees were dispersed into separate rooms. Salman had his friend’s phone when CID officers asked him to unlock it. However, he did not know the password to do so. Consequently, they subjected him to psychological pressure and beatings. CID officers stripped him of his clothes, beat him, insulted and slandered him, and sexually harassed him. They also threatened him with rape, beatings, and deprived him of the ability to pray.

Furthermore, officers didn’t allow Salman to use the bathroom when needed, but only at specific times. They rushed Salman inside the bathroom and sometimes opened the door on him. Additionally, they lined the detainees up in one row blindfolded and hit their heads against the wall. Husain AlSari, Ali Abdulhadi, and Jasim Mohamed Ajwaid were among those detainees accused of the same charge brought against Salman, which was burning the car of the parliamentary elections candidate, Majid AlAsfour.

Salman’s interrogation lasted for about 7 days and was conducted without the presence of a lawyer. As a result of the threats and torture, his mental state deteriorated, and consequently, he was forced to confess by signing an investigation report without being aware of its content. On 28 October 2014, Salman was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. A week after his transfer to the Dry Dock Detention Center, his family received phone calls from detainees at the center who informed them that their son was in the detention center, enduring a bad psychological state. A few minutes later, Salman called and reassured his family of his condition.


Salman was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trials, was unable to present evidence and challenge evidence presented against him, was denied access to his attorney, and wasn’t allowed to meet with him alone. Furthermore, his confessions extracted under torture were used against him despite informing the judge that the charges against him were untrue and obtained under torture. On 6 September 2015, Salman was sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison in the case of burning the car of the parliamentary election candidate for a terrorist purpose and endangering people’s lives and money. He was charged with 1) arson, and 2) manufacturing usable or explosive devices. Moreover, he was later sentenced to ten years in prison on the charge of 3) attacking a police patrol and causing harm to a citizen. On 28 October 2015, he was also sentenced to ten years in prison in a gathering and rioting case on charges of 4) negligent destruction, 5) intentionally endangering a private means of transport, 6) manufacturing usable or explosive devices, 7) arson, and 8) assaulting the body integrity of others. Lastly, on 1 November 2015, he was sentenced to three years in prison on the charge of 9) manufacturing usable and explosive devices to disturb public security, resulting in a total sentence of 33 years imprisonment. On 28 March 2016, the court of appeals reduced Salman’s first sentence for the charge of burning the car of MP AlAsfour to five years of prison. On 29 May 2016, the court of appeals also reduced the sentence for the last case, the charge of manufacturing usable and explosive devices to disturb public security, to two years imprisonment. However, the court of appeal upheld the verdict for the third case on 31 May 2016, making the total of his sentence 27 years. On 6 September 2015, after the issuance of the first verdict, Salman was transferred to the New Dry Dock Prison, designated for inmates under the age of 21.

After the first sentencing hearing, on 6 September 2015, the prisoners were taken to Jau Prison to collect their personal belongings. During this time, Salman was severely beaten and handcuffed from behind. Additionally, a police officer beat him in the stomach. He endured long hours of torture before being transferred to the young convicts’ prison. Furthermore, the security forces subjected him and the other prisoners to psychological and physical torture by insulting, laughing, and mocking them.

Salman and his fellow inmates were insulted and tortured by the Dry Dock Prison officers, forcing them to stand and sit for a long time. He also suffered from alopecia in the head, for which he was denied medical treatment before being allowed to bring in the necessary medicine from outside the prison. 

In 2020, Salman was transferred to Jau Prison upon reaching 21 years old, where he faced mistreatment while serving his sentence. Jau Prison officers once tied him up on a cold day while he was wearing light clothes and left him in the corridor of the prison where it was extremely cold. Moreover, Salman was subjected to discrimination by Jau Prison officers based on his religious and political opinions. They insulted him, his Shia sect, and the opposition figures belonging to the sect. Additionally, he was once placed in solitary confinement in Jau Prison for going out to the prison fence.

Furthermore, Salman was infected with COVID-19 and was isolated with the other infected inmates in a cell containing more than eight people. Back then, he did not receive the necessary medical treatment for a period ranging from 10 days to two weeks.  

In August 2023, Salman 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.

Recently, Salman complained about medical neglect in Jau Prison and the inedible meals offered to him. For three months, he has been suffering from poor eyesight and needed an eye test to get suitable glasses. After prolonged delays, he underwent an eye test at Salmaniya Hospital, and eyeglasses were prescribed to him; however, the glasses have not yet been handed over to him.

Salman’s warrantless arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, unjust solitary confinement, denial of attorney access, unfair trials, religious discrimination, and medical negligence constitute violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (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), to which Bahrain is a party. 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 on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salman. ADHRB also urges the Bahraini government to investigate allegations of arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, denial of legal counsel, religious discrimination, and medical negligence, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. At the very least, ADHRB advocates for a fair retrial for Salman under the Restorative Justice Law for Children, leading to his release. Additionally, it urges the Jau Prison administration to promptly provide appropriate healthcare for Salman, including eyeglasses, treatment for his head alopecia, and adequate healthy food, holding it responsible for any further deterioration in his health condition.