Back to top

Arbitrary detention of human rights journalist Nidzara Ahmetasevic

Status: 
Detained
About the situation

On 6 March 2021, Nidzara Ahmetasevic was arrested from a street in Sarajevo, brought handcuffed to a police station and detained for several hours. Neither she nor her lawyer were provided any reason for her detention. Following a strip search and gendered insults she was eventually released.

About the HRD

Nidzara AhNidzara Ahmetasevicmetasevic is a women human rights defender, journalist and independent researcher working on the situation of migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She collaborates with various media outlets, including Kosovo 2.0 online magazine and online portal nomad.ba and has published scholarly articles on the topic of migration. Nidzara Ahmetasevic has been working on the Balkan Route since 2015, exposing violations of human rights in different countries. Since the crisis began in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018, her focus has shifted mainly to the situation of migrants and refugees in the country, exposing human rights violations and emphasizing solidarity networks.

10 March 2021
Arbitrary detention of human rights journalist Nidzara Ahmetasevic

On 6 March 2021, Nidzara Ahmetasevic was arrested from a street in Sarajevo, brought handcuffed to a police station and detained for several hours. Neither she nor her lawyer were provided any reason for her detention. Following a strip search and gendered insults she was eventually released.

Nidzara Ahmetasevic is a women human rights defender, journalist and independent researcher working on the situation of migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She collaborates with various media outlets, including Kosovo 2.0 online magazine and online portal nomad.ba and has published scholarly articles on the topic of migration. Nidzara Ahmetasevic has been working on the Balkan Route since 2015, exposing violations of human rights in different countries. Since the crisis began in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018, her focus has shifted mainly to the situation of migrants and refugees in the country, exposing human rights violations and emphasizing solidarity networks.

On 6 March 2021 at approximatively 1 pm, Nidzara Ahmetasevic was approached by a policeman who stopped her and demanded to see identification. She responded by questioning the grounds for this request and also asked the officer to put on a face mask, which is a requirement in Bosnia in all public spaces. A verbal exchange ensured and when Nidzara Ahmetasevic started to record the situation on her mobile phone, she was handcuffed and brought to Novo Sarajevo police station. Prior to her arrest, the police office objected to having his authority questioned by a woman. Nidzara Ahmetasevic was not informed about why she was being detained or what threat she presented which would warrant her being handcuffed on the street.

While she was being questioned at the police station, police officers made it clear that they were aware that Nidzara Ahmetasevic is a human rights journalist. She was subjected to gendered and sexualised insults by the police officer who detained her. He threatened her with a full body search and imprisonment. As her personal possessions were checked and listed, police officers noted her Front Line Defenders Human Rights Defender ID card and inquired about her human rights work. Before being placed in a cell, Nidzara Ahmetasevic was forced to undergo a strip search carried out by a female police officer.

After several hours in detention, at around 6 pm, Nidzara Ahmetasevic was released. The grounds for her detention remain unknown. Following her release, the commanding police officer remarked to her that her detention was “an inconvenient situation”; members of an internal affairs unit also spoke to her about her ordeal. On her way home, she was followed by a police car.

Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned by the detention and gendered harassment of Nidzara Ahmetasevic and the arbitrary misuse of authority against her by police officers. Her ordeal highlights the additional risks faced by women human rights defenders, including how they are often targeted for being seen as outspoken or questioning the authority of men in power. Front Line Defenders calls on the relevant authority to carry out an immediate, full and transparent investigation into the detention and treatment of Nidzara Ahmetasevic with a view to publishing the results and sanctioning the officer(s) responsible.