Profile in Persecution: Jaffar Faisal Hashem

Jaffar Faisal Hashem was a 23-year-old factory worker when he was forcefully arrested without a warrant at his grandfather’s house in Jidhafs, Bahrain. He was then forcibly disappeared for 20 days, during which he endured physical and psychological torture and was placed in solitary confinement for the entire duration of the interrogation. Jaffar is one of 51 individuals convicted in a mass trial that was marred by due process violations. He is currently held in Dry Dock Detention Center.

On 9 November 2019 at 2 a.m., riot police, Commandos forces, and masked officers in civilian clothing raided Jaffar’s grandfather’s house by barging in without knocking and heading straight to the room where Jaffar and his brother were sleeping. They proceeded to beat Jaffar in the house and out on the street during his arrest, until his screams could be heard in the neighboring houses. Jaffar was not wanted by authorities, and officers did not state the reason for his arrest. Jaffar had come back from Iraq the week prior where he was on pilgrimage during Ziyarat Arabeen, a Shiite pilgrimage of the holy city of Karbala to mark the 40-day mourning period after the killing of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain.

Jaffar’s parents received a 5-second call from him the next day letting them know that he was okay and that he was moved to the interrogations building, and then the call was cut. He was then forcibly disappeared for 20 days during which he remained in solitary confinement at the Central Investigation Department (CID). At the CID, Jaffar was subjected to mistreatment and torture that lasted for an entire week, which included severe beating on all areas of his body and especially his head, as well as electric shocks. CID officers also sexually harassed Jaffar and threatened him with rape. All of this was done with the intention of extracting a forced confession to preselected charges, which Jaffar eventually confessed to as a result of the torture inflicted on him.  No lawyer was allowed to be present during the first 20 days of detention, after which Jaffar was moved to the Office of the Public Prosecution (OPP) then to Dry Dock Detention Center, where he now remains.

On 3 November 2020, Jaffar was sentenced along with 50 others in a mass trial in Manama, which was marred by due process violations and in which evidence obtained under torture was used, as was the case with Jaffar. Of 51 individuals, 27 were sentenced in absentia. He was charged with (1) Joining a terrorist organization seeking to obstruct the rule of the law and the constitution and obstruct the workings of State institutions and harm its national unity, (2) receiving money from the terrorist organization to meet his basic necessities, and receiving fireworks and storing them to be detonated for terrorist activities, and (3) providing members of the terrorist organization with weapons, ammunition, fireworks and money in order to spread chaos, trigger tensions, weaken State constituents and overthrow it. Jaffar was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but he remains in Dry Dock Detention Center awaiting his transfer to prison.

The treatment Jaffar has suffered at the hands of Bahraini authorities, from his arrest to the torture and mistreatment he endured during detention, to his trial, constitutes violations of international law, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which were ratified by Bahrain. ADHRB calls upon the authorities to drop the preselected charges against Jaffar and hold a retrial for all 51 individuals upholding international standards of fair trial. Furthermore, ADHRB urges authorities to investigate claims of torture and sexual harassment by CID officials in order to hold those officials accountable and prevent further cases of mistreatment in Bahraini prisons.

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