Bahrain: Bahrain- Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal of policewoman on charges of torturing and mistreating journalist Nazeeha Saeed
On 23 June 2013, a Court of Appeal in Manama upheld the acquittal of policewoman Sarah Al-Moosa’s on charges of torturing and mistreating journalist Nazeeha Saeed, Bahrain correspondent for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya.
On 22 October 2012 a Manama Court had acquitted the police officer of the charges on the basis that the evidence presented by Nazeeha Saeed was ‘contradictory’ and ‘not consistent’ with the forensic report. This is despite the fact that she presented three medical reports, with two of them being from the Ministry of the Interior, corroborating her accounts of torture she suffered while in police custody. The Court of Appeal has now upheld this verdict, causing serious concern regarding impunity of police officials.
Nazeeha Saeed was summoned to the police station in Riffa on 22 May 2011 for questioning. On her arrival she was asked to wait in a room along with other women, before she was brought for interrogation. She was accused by police officials of “lying” in her reports, of “harming Bahrain’s image” and told to admit her links with the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar and the Iranian Arabic-language TV station Al-Alam. During the interrogation, which lasted approximately 13 hours, she was blindfolded, kicked, punched, and slapped. She was also subjected to verbal abuse, her hair was pulled and she had a shoe forced into her mouth. Following the ordeal she was able to identify five of the police officials who attacked her, however only one female police officer, Sara al-Moosa, was prosecuted.
The Gulf Centre for Human (GCHR) expresses serious concern at the verdict of the appeal court in Manama and believes that it encourages impunity among police officials in Bahrain. The GCHR expresses further concern at the torture of Nazeeha Saeed as she peacefully and legitimately undertook her work as a journalist.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Bahrain to:
1. Ensure that the prosecutor-general takes charge of the case and refers it to the court of Cassation;
2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all those in police custody in Bahrain;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“, and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration.”