A UK court has granted asylum to a Bahraini teenager after he was detained under the fast-track system – later deemed unlawful by the High Court – and threatened with deportation.
Isa Haider Alaali, 19, arrived in Britain on February 2014 and claimed asylum the same day. Instead, he was detained for five-and-a-half months in Harmondsworth detention centre and had his asylum application rejected twice. The Home Office ordered his deportation despite having been sentenced in absentia in Bahrain to five years in jail for illegal gathering and rioting during a 2011 uprising.
The teenager, who claims he was beaten and tortured by police upon his first arrest in February 2014, told IBTimes UK last year that he feared being abused again if he went back to his homeland.
"If I go back to Bahrain, my life will be over," he said at the time over the phone, with the help of a translator. "My real fear is to be tortured like it happened before.
"I've received serious threats to my life in Bahrain. I'm concerned about my life."
Human Rights Watch has maintained that "Bahrain has a well-deserved reputation for torture", and that this reputation is "all of its own making". Amnesty International has previously investigated the torture and sexual abuse of children in detention.
A court injunction later stopped the deportation attempt and Alaali was able appeal his asylum claim.
Earlier in June, the High Court ruled that the Home Office's system of Fast Track Rules (FTR), which allows the acceleration of legal hearings and appeals, while keeping the individual detained at all times.
The judge said that the FTR "do incorporate structural unfairness" putting the appellant, who is detained, in an unfair position.
In the latest ruling on Alaali's asylum application, Judge Clark of the Immigration and Asylum tribunal recognised that there was a "reasonable chance" that the teenager would risk "persecution on return to Bahrain for his political beliefs" and that he therefore qualifies as a refugee.
That despite the Home Office's stern denial to his asylum claims and rebuttal of evidences brought forward by Amnesty International Chatham House. Three United Nations special rapporteurs found "serious concern that should Alaali be deported to Bahrain, he may face serious risk of being tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention".
"I want to thank everyone who supported my case, in particular, BIRD and Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei," said Isa Alaali following the court's verdict.
He added: "This decision is a slap in the face of the Bahraini government. I will be an ambassador to my country and people, and continue the struggle for human rights and democracy."
NOTE: Since the publication of this article, a spokesman for the Bahraini government contacted IBTimes UK with the following statement:
"No threat of any kind exists against Mr Alaali in Bahrain. The UK Home Office's repeated position was that this individual would not face any form of persecution upon returning to Bahrain and this was entirely correct.
Any subsequent decision taken by the UK's Immigration and Asylum Tribunal however is of course an internal matter for the UK asylum system.
In line with Bahrain's zero-tolerance policy towards mistreatment, any allegations of mistreatment will automatically trigger rigorous investigations, conducted by independent and transparent institutions, all of which openly publish their investigative findings."