For Immediate Release
PHR welcomes the decision this week by the Bahraini public prosecutor to charge two police officers in connection with the torture of medical professionals arrested during popular protests a year and a half ago. Yet that achievement is tarnished by the government’s continuing violation of medical neutrality by denying access to medical care for people aligned with opposition groups.
PHR encourages Bahraini authorities to conduct the investigation in a thorough, impartial, and transparent manner. Such an investigation would represent a significant shift on the part of the government, which has made little progress toward accountability for torture in the 10 months since the release of the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). That report recommended independent and impartial investigations of alleged acts of torture by Bahraini security forces against civilians.
The Bahraini authorities still have significant progress to make to address the crimes against peaceful civilian protesters. PHR calls on the Government of Bahrain to immediately implement the remaining recommendations of the BICI Report, including establishing a mechanism to investigate allegations of excessive use of force, training security forces in UN best practices, and appropriately compensating victims of torture and ill treatment.
Additionally, the Government of Bahrain must take all necessary steps to ensure access to health care for its population by demilitarizing hospitals and making them safe places for all patients to seek medical treatment.
The inability of some people to access essential medical services drove Haleema Al-Sabagh, a nurse assistant, to take medical supplies from Salmaniya Hospital to treat injured protesters off-site, even though the removal of the supplies violated Bahraini law. The 35-year-old mother of a 2-year-old, who was arrested in January 2012, was sentenced this week to one year in prison.
PHR has previously reported on the Government of Bahrain’s violations of medical neutrality in the aftermath of the protests, including the arrest, detention, and unfair trials of the medics and the militarization of the country’s main hospital.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.