Abduljalil Alsingace

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Abduljalil Alsingace is a blogger and human rights defender who was arrested shortly after pro-reform protests erupted in Bahrain in February 2011 and sentenced to life in prison in June of that year. An independent inquiry found that prison authorities had tortured him, and his family says he continues to be denied medical treatment.

Alsingace was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent after pro-reform protests in February 2011. He was arrested on March 17, 2011, according to Al-Jazeera and the now-shuttered independent Bahraini newspaper Al-Wasat.

On June 22, 2011, a military court sentenced Alsingace to life imprisonment for "plotting to topple the monarchy," according to the official Bahraini News Agency. In all, 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty on similar charges and handed lengthy sentences, the news agency reported.

On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy. He was first arrested on anti-state conspiracy charges in August 2010, according to The Guardian, as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents, but was released in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement, according to PEN America.

On September 4, 2012, the High Court of Appeal upheld Alsingace’s conviction and life sentence, along with those of his co-defendants, according to the BBC. Four months later, on January 7, 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, also upheld the sentences.

In 2015-2016, Alsingace refused solid food for 313 days to protest the conditions at Jaw Central Prison, where he is being held, according to Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain.

In November 2015, Alsingace was temporarily released to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral.

A family member, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ in October 2016 that Alsingace was not receiving adequate medical care, including for injuries suffered during torture. According to findings by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Alsingace was "sexually molested with a finger thrust into his anus" and repeatedly beaten with fists and batons. One officer placed a pistol in his mouth and said, "I wish I could empty it in your head." Security forces threatened to rape his daughter, the inquiry found. The commission was established by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in June 2011 to investigate the 2011 protest movement and subsequent crackdown, including allegations of abuse of prisoners such as Alsingace. Its findings and recommendations, based on interviews with inmates, officials, witnesses, and human rights defenders, were officially endorsed by King Hamad in November 2011.

In March 2017, Alsingace was treated for severe dehydration at a military hospital, according to Pen International and the Gulf Center for Human Rights. The rights groups added that authorities prevented Alsingace from attending a medical appointment that month after he refused to go to the examination in a prison uniform and handcuffs.

A family member told CPJ in late 2018 that authorities refused Alsingace visits as well as access to medical treatment, toiletries, and hygienic products, including caps for his crutches. The family member said Alsingace fainted from vertigo in October 2018 but that authorities still refused to transfer him to a prison clinic.

A family member told CPJ in September 2019 that Alsingace was suffering from serious chest pain that started the prior month and since spread to his hand and shoulder. Jaw Prison’s doctor told him that he had a serious heart problem. The family member told CPJ that Alsingace also suffered from shaking in his left hand. He was scheduled for an appointment with a heart specialist at a military hospital, but authorities refused to take him because he would not report to the hospital in his prison uniform, according to the family member. As of September 17, Alsingace was not allowed to go to an appointment with a bone specialist because guards refused to let him go without wearing arm and leg shackles, despite needing crutches to walk. As of September 2019, he still has not been allowed access to medication prescribed for the chest pain, according to the family member.

CPJ emailed the Embassy of Bahrain in Washington, D.C., in October 2019 for comment on Alsingace’s imprisonment, including reports of him being denied access to medical treatment, but did not receive a response.