From the Committee to Protect Journalists:
Bahrain acquits officer on charges of torturing a journalist
New York, October 24, 2012–CPJ is alarmed by a Bahraini court’s acquittal of a police officer accused of torturing a journalist in custody in 2011.
A criminal court in Manama on Monday acquitted police officer Sara al-Moussa on charges of torturing Nazeeha Saeed, a reporter for France24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, while the journalist was in custody in May 2011, according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA). The agency reported that the court ruled that Saeed’s testimony was full of “contradictions” and not “consistent.” Saeed told CPJ that she and her lawyer are urging prosecutors to reopen the case.
Police arrested Saeed while she was covering anti-government protests in the capital on May 22, 2011, according to news reports. Saeed told CPJ that during her 13-hour detention, al-Moussa and the other officers blindfolded her, beat her repeatedly with a hose, pulled her hair, slapped her in the face, dunked her head in a toilet, kicked her, and forced her to sign papers she was not allowed to read. The journalist, who was later examined by a doctor, submitted several medical reports to the court proving she had sustained bruises from the incident, she said.
Saeed told CPJ that the government had not taken any serious steps to investigate the case for several months. In January 2012, she filed her own complaint against al-Moussa, two other female police officers, and two male officers on torture accusations, news reports said. The court only tried al-Moussa, according to news reports. The officer’s trial began on June 6 and the verdict was reached on Monday, after five months of legal back-and-forth, the reports said. No action has been taken against the other four police members, news reports said.
Last year, Saeed was a witness in the trial of two police officers who were charged with killing two protesters, news reports said. The officers were acquitted in September, the reports said.
“Bahrain’s failure over the past 20 months to fully investigate attacks against journalists covering protests and prosecute those responsible calls into question the verdict of this court,” said CPJ Deputy Director Rob Mahoney. “Prosecutors should not let this case rest. Nazeeha Saeed deserves justice.”
CPJ research shows that since February 2011, independent and opposition journalists in Bahrain have endured the worst conditions since King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa assumed the throne in 1999. CPJ has documented three journalist deaths, including a shooting death in April; dozens of detentions; arbitrary deportations; government-sponsored billboards and advertisements smearing journalists; and numerous physical assaults. In April, authorities denied CPJ and several other press freedom and free expression groups visas to enter Bahrain.
For more data and analysis on Bahrain, visit CPJ’s Bahrain page here.
From the Irish Times:
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Sir, – I wish to congratulate Prof Damien McCormack (October 19th) for his courageous comments on the situation in Bahrain. As he correctly states, Irish-trained doctors have been illegally detained, tortured and convicted of the “crime” of treating injured anti-government protesters.
Although media attention has drifted away from Bahrain, these colleagues remain under sentence and their treatment has been roundly condemned by the United Nations and multiple human rights organisations.
Regrettably, as Prof McCormack also points out, a number of Irish medical institutions have disgraced themselves in their reaction to these events. Truly, it beggars belief that representatives of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland paid social visits to the leaders of the brutal Bahraini regime in the same week that their own graduates had their convictions upheld by a kangaroo court.
Throughout this entire episode, the leadership of the Irish medical profession has failed to consistently and unequivocally condemn a savage regime that has incarcerated and tortured doctors. Much opprobrium has deservedly attached itself to the RCSI, but the muted response and lengthy silence of both the Irish Medical Organisation and the Royal College of Physicians in recent times must also be highlighted.
The Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee has, in the past, investigated these issues and the behaviour of certain Irish medical institutions with respect to Bahrain. I urge them to revisit this matter and to hold members of our profession to account for their actions and inactions during the course of this scandal. – Yours, etc,
Dr RUAIRI HANLEY,
Kells, Co Meath.