Bahrain: Detention of Ali Ebrahim Salman

Ali Ebrahim Salman

This article is sourced from Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (ADHRB), a sister organisation of the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR).

Ali Ebrahim Salman is a 30-year-old man who was arrested by Bahraini riot police without a warrant in 2017 and subjected to torture, which led to a deterioration of his health. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia in 2019.

Ali was arrested on 23 May 2017, while participating in a peaceful sit-in protesting the denationalization and feared deportation of Shia leader Sheikh Isa Qassim in the village of Duraz. He was arrested by riot police who raided the sit-in using tear gas and shot guns. The riot police did not have a warrant, did not mention any reason for the arrest, and beat Ali as they arrested him. Nine days prior to his arrest, Ali had undergone shoulder surgery and was in the process of recovering.

After his arrest, Ali Ebrahim was taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) where he was interrogated, beaten, forced to stand, and denied the opportunity to contact his family. Ali was forced to sign prepared documents under duress without being allowed to review their contents. After two days at the CID, Ali Ebrahim was allowed to make a phone call, but the call only lasted a few seconds.

Ali was detained at the CID for 22 days, during which officers transferred him back and forth to Jau Prison four times – each time he was subjected to eight hours of beatings, religious denigration, and extreme temperatures.

The beatings and unsafe conditions led to a deterioration in Ali’s shoulder recovery, and ten days into his detention he actively sought medical attention. A few days later he was taken to the clinic, and was blindfolded and beaten during the transfer. At the clinic he was only given some pills, which were not an adequate treatment for his shoulder injury.

Twenty-two days following his arrest, officers transferred Ali from the CID to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he was able to receive visitors for the first time since his arrest. Ali Ebrahim was eventually released on 21 January 2018, after he paid 200 dinars in bail. Only after his release did he learn from a friend that he was being charged with rioting, participating in illegal assembly, and assaulting security officers with excessive force.

On 27 February 2019, Ali fled Bahrain, and the court convicted him in absentia to ten years’ imprisonment. He has not sought appeal, did not acquire a lawyer, and did not file any complaints against the government because of his lack of faith in the judicial system.

Bahrain’s actions against Ali violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), each of which Bahrain is a party to. The beatings, religious denigration, and exposure to extreme temperatures are in violation of the CAT. Ali’s arrest violates Article 21 of the ICCPR, which protects individuals’ right of peaceful assembly, and his subsequent in absentia conviction violates Articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR. Additionally, the denial of proper medical treatment for Ali’s shoulder violates his right to health under Article 12 of the ICESCR.

ECDHR joins ADHRB in calling on Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by conducting all trials under universally agreed judicial standards and open to international monitoring and evaluation. In light of Ali’s treatment while at the CID and Jau Prison, ADHRB and ECDHR also urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture and ill-treatment, and to hold perpetrators accountable, as well as to ensure appropriate medical care is provided for all prisoners.