Bahrain: Woman human rights defender at high risk of torture, including sexual assault

In response to news about the arrest of human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh by the Bahraini authorities on the night of 3 July 2017 Samah Hadid, Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International in the Middle-East said:

“The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ebtisam al-Saegh whose only crime is speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent.”

“We are deeply concerned about Ebtisam’s wellbeing. When she was arrested in May 2017, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency. Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims and we fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody.”


Ebtisam al-Saegh is a prominent human rights defender from Bahrain. She was arrested at 23:45 on 3 July 2017, after her house was raided by masked officers in civilian clothing carrying body and head cameras. Around twenty-five officers claiming to belong to the CID (Criminal Investigation Directorate) arrived at her house in five civilian cars and a mini bus.

Three armed men stayed outside the house while seven officers, including two female officers dressed in Abaya and Niqab, entered the home.

No warrant was presented for the arrest of Ebtissam al-Saegh. When she asked about the reason for her arrest and where she was being taken they replied: you don’t need to talk, you will know as soon as you reach there”.

Officers confiscated her mobile phones and her national ID card. The two female officers placed Ebtisam al-Saegh in handcuffs and led her away.

Amnesty international received information that Ebtisam al-Saegh was seen at the Issa Town detention centre for women, on the outskirts of Manama the capital, in the early hours of 04 July 2017, but was later transferred to an undisclosed place.

On 3 July Ebtisam al-Saegh had been tweeting about the ill treatment of women at the hands of the National Security Agency (NSA) and held the King of Bahrain responsible for their actions.

In May 2017 Amnesty International documented the arrest, torture, including sexual assault, of Ebtisam al-Saegh at the NSA.