Profile in Persecution: Ali Mahmood Mahmood (AlKahraba’ii)

Ali Mahmood Mahmood (AlKahraba’ii) was a 15-year-old Bahraini school student and minor when Bahraini authorities arrested him from his grandfather’s house on 16 January 2019 without presenting an arrest warrant. During detention, he endured torture, enforced disappearance, denial of access to legal counsel, unfair trial based on confessions extracted under torture, and sectarian-based insults. Ali was sentenced to 10 years in prison, of which he served five years before being released on 8 April 2024, under a royal pardon that included 1,584 convicts.

On 16 January 2019, riot police, commandos, and special forces raided the home of Ali’s grandfather in Duraz, where he was staying. The officers entered the house from above and arrested him without providing any arrest warrant or reason for his arrest. Ali’s arrest occurred on a cold day while he was wearing light clothes, and officers refused to provide him with warmer clothing. Subsequently, they transferred him to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) Building, where he managed to call his family for no more than a minute, informing them of his location. After that, his news was cut off and he forcibly disappeared until he was transferred to the New Dry Dock Prison on 6 February 2019. 

Ali was previously summoned to appear before the Hamad Town Center in 2018 when he was 14 years old; however, he was not arrested at that time.

At the CID, Ali was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or guardian for 20 days. CID officers stripped him of his clothes, beat him on his face, forced him to stand for extended periods, poured cold water on him while the weather was cold, and then transferred him to an extremely cold air-conditioned room. Furthermore, they insulted his parents and his Shia religious sect. Subsequently, he confessed to the fabricated charges brought against him under torture.

Ali was not presented to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). Instead, he was transferred to Jau Prison, where he met with the PPO’s representative who forced him to sign papers without knowing their content. On 6 February 2019, he was transferred to the New Dry Dock Prison, where he was able to call his family for the first time since his enforced disappearance when he was at the CID.

Ali was not brought before a judge within 48 hours after arrest, was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trial (which started six months after his arrest), 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 28 January 2020, Ali was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dinars. He was convicted of 1) training on explosive materials, 2) attempted explosion, 3) possession of weapons, 4) manufacture of explosives, and 5) conspiring with external entities. The court of appeal, as well as the court of cassation, upheld the sentence.

On 22 March 2024, Ali joined a hunger strike in solidarity with his fellow inmate, Mohamed Hasan Radhi, who was transferred to isolation. In a voice recording spread on social media, Ali held concerned authorities responsible for the deterioration of his inmate’s psychological condition.

On 8 April 2024, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain issued a royal decree pardoning 1,584 convicts on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his accession to the throne, coinciding with Eid al-Fitr, with Ali among them. He was released on the same day.

Ali’s warrantless arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, denial of attorney access, unfair trial, and religious discrimination 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 upon the Bahraini authorities to investigate the allegations of Ali’s arbitrary arrest as a minor, torture, enforced disappearance, religious discrimination, and denial of attorney access during interrogations, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. Additionally, ADHRB urges the Bahraini government to end the isolation of all political prisoners, holding the government responsible for the deterioration of the psychological conditions of the isolated detainees. While ADHRB welcomes the issued royal pardon, which included several political prisoners, it considers this belated step insufficient unless investigations into the violations suffered by these released individuals are conducted, compensation is provided, perpetrators are held accountable, and political arrests and prison violations cease.