Public Statement - Date: 25 July 2013
AI Index: MDE 11/023/2013
A decision by the Public Prosecution not to appeal against an acquittal verdict in a torture case brings to a close what to-date has been the only effort to obtain justice for the torture of Nazeeha Sa’eed.
Twenty third of July was the deadline for the Public Prosecution to appeal on behalf of Journalist Nazeeha Sa’eed who said she was tortured in 2011, but it decided not to.
The closure of the case initiated by the journalist is yet another example of Bahrain’s justice system’s inability to offer an effective remedy for victims of human rights violations. Many complaints of torture were dismissed by the authorities and in those cases where investigations of torture allegations and excessive use of force resulting in deaths were carried out by the Public Prosecution, those found responsible, usually low ranking security men, were either acquitted or received lenient prison sentences which they are appealing against.
Nazeeha Sa’eed, a 31-year-old Bahraini journalist who has worked as a correspondent for French Television news channel France 24 since June 2009 and for Monte-Carlo TV since 2004, was detained and tortured in 2011.
According to Nazeeha Sa’eed, in the evening of 22 May 2011, she was summoned to al-Riffa’a police station. She was first questioned by a policeman who told her that she was accused of being a member of a group that wanted to overthrow the monarchy and that she had spoken to some of the leaders of the opposition. She denied the accusation.
Nazeeha Sa’eed was then taken to another room, where a group of policemen and policewomen reportedly started beating her with a hose-pipe, punching and kicking her. She was then taken to another room, blindfolded and pulled by her hair into other rooms. She was reportedly beaten on her back and feet by one policewoman who later used electric shocks on Nazeeha Sa’eed’s arm. The policewoman also made her pretend to be a monkey and forced her to drink an unidentified liquid while she was blindfolded. The policewoman pushed Nazeeha Sa’eed’s head down a toilet and said, “This water is cleaner than you, you Sh’ia”. She also accused Nazeeha Sa’eed of fabricating her television reports.
Nazeeha Sa’eed was then questioned again. She was asked about the sources of her media reports on deaths of protestors. When she replied she had received the information from doctors, her investigators told her that these doctors were lying and that she had fabricated the information. When her blindfold was eventually removed, Nazeeha Sa’eed could see there were nurses detained in the room with her.
Ten hours after she arrived at the police station, Nazeeha Sa’eed was taken to the officer in charge, who asked her to sign some papers. But she was too afraid to ask to read them before signing. The officer told her, “whatever happens in this police station is my reputation and You don’t want to ruin it.”
Following her release Nazeeha Sa’eed filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). The PPO carried out an investigation and it referred the case to a lower criminal court. On 4 March 2012 the lower criminal court returned the case to the PPO arguing it was a felony case and not misdemeanour, and therefore not within its jurisdiction. The PPO then referred the case to the High Criminal Court which acquitted the policewoman in October 2012 despite the overwhelming evidence that Nazeeha Sa’eed had been tortured.
Two forensic reports, prepared by two Ministry of Interior forensic experts who examined Nazeeha Sa’eed’s body on 24 and 25 May 2011 respectively, noted marks of torture and beatings on several parts of her body. In the PPO’s investigation two policewomen, from the same police station, testified for Nazeeha Sa’eed, confirming her torture and beatings.
The Public Prosecution appealed against the verdict. However, on 23 June 2013 the High Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed the verdict issued on 22 October. The Public Prosecution had 30 days, as stipulated in the law, to appeal the verdict before the Court of Cassation, but it declined to do so. The Public Prosecution has also refused to give the 23 June verdict by the High Criminal Court of Appeal to Nazeeha Sa’eed and her lawyer.
The government has recently set up several human rights bodies, including two Ombudsmen, one in the Ministry of Interior and the other in the National Security Agency, to investigate human rights abuses by the security forces. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that Nazeeha Sa’eed and other victims are afforded effective remedy.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on
+44 20 7413 5566
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK