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PHR Encouraged by U.S. Government’s Decision to Delay Arms Sale to Bahrain in Response to Abuses

Significant and measurable changes must be made before sale proceeds

For Immediate Release

Following Physicians forHuman Rights’ (PHR) call for the Obama Administration to halt a 53 milliondollar arms sale to Bahrain, PHR today applauds the decision by the U.S.Government to delay the sale until it reviews Bahrain’s investigation ofalleged human rights abuses and implementing reforms.  

“This is a good first step,but before this sale moves forward, there must be significant and measurable improvementsfor the citizens of Bahrain,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer of PHR. “Ifthe Government of Bahrain wants to show that it is truly committed to humanrights, it must start by ensuring fair trials for all citizens, reinstatingall employees who were dismissed for peacefully protesting, and ceasing allacts of torture and other inhumane treatment.”

As part of these changes, PHRrenews calls for the Kingdom of Bahrain to drop all charges against the medicswho will appear before an appeals court on October 23 as well as at least 350protesters who are also detained.  

“The announcement by Bahrain’sAttorney General to hold civilian trials for the 20 doctors who were sentenced as alleged backers of anti-government protests was encouraging,” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at PHR. “However,this small step is not enough. We are still troubled by the allegations oftorture and forced confessions for all those who were detained. Justice andtorture are simply incompatible.”  

On November 23, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry willrelease its findings based on a two month investigation in Bahrain. “If thisreport is going to provide any real insight into the human rights abuses thatoccurred in Bahrain, there must bequalified forensic and medical evaluations of all detainees using the goldstandard of torture investigations – the U.N. Istanbul Protocol, which PHRhelped develop.  Confessions or evidencederived from torture must not be used in court, and anyone who engaged in anyacts of torture or ill treatment must be held accountable,” said Sollom.

PHR has continuallycondemned the human rights violations suffered by civilians during the popularuprising, and has called for all trials to uphold internationally recognizedstandards of fairness. An estimated 350 protestors remain in detentionand thousands have been unfairly convicted, abused or fired from their jobs. In April, PHR released the report Do No Harm, whichdetailed Bahrain’s systematic attacks on physicians, medical staff andpatients.

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.