For Immediate Release
Physiciansfor Human Rights (PHR) today called the trial of Bahraini medics accused ofoverthrowing the regime and other felonies “severely flawed.”
Despiteallegations that the medics’ confessions were obtained through torture, theprosecutor refused to confirm that he will drop the medics’ confessions duringtoday’s trial. PHR has continually called for qualifiedforensic and medical evaluations of all detainees in Bahrain using the goldstandard of torture investigations – the U.N. Istanbul Protocol, which PHRhelped to develop.
“SeniorBahraini cabinet members assured PHR that the medics would be given a brand newtrial in a civilian court and that any confessions made during detention wouldbe thrown out of court. What happened today proves that these were hollowpromises and this new trial appears to be a continuation of the severely flawedmilitary trial that first convicted the medics based on confessions thatresulted from torture,” said PHR’s Deputy DirectorRichard Sollom. “Given that the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report foundevidence of torture and the prosecutor openly acknowledged the allegations oftorture in court today, all confessions must be thrown out. All medics anddetainees should be examined by a forensic expert for evidence of psychologicaland physical torture.”
Overthe weekend, Bahraini border authorities refused Sollom entrance into Bahrainto monitor the trial of medics who provided care for protestors during popularuprisings last year.
“Ifthe government of Bahrain was genuinely committed to improving human rights,they wouldn’t be blocking independent human rights observers from entering thecountry,” said Richard Sollom.
Thedevelopments in today’s trial add to the growing list of human rights concernsin Bahrain. Today, the U.S. State Department said the government of Bahrainshould investigate reports of excessive force used against demonstrators,following reports that Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for HumanRights, was beaten by security forces responding to demonstrations last week.Recently, continued violent attacks on demonstrators including the excessiveand inappropriate use of tear gas have also been reported.
Themedics who are awaiting trial are facing continued harassment, discrimination,and financial hardship since they cannot resume their jobs with government orwork in the private sector.
“Asalways, words are not enough when it comes to protecting human rights,” saidPHR's Chief Policy Officer, Hans Hogrefe. “Bahrain needs to act in a manner that is consistent with theKing’s promise to uphold human rights. The continued reliance on confessionsderived from torture, the lack of fair and open trails, and the continued use offorce against the people of Bahrain—these are not the signs of a governmentcommitted to human rights.”
PHR continues to call on the Government of Bahrain to unconditionallyrelease all prisoners of conscience, ensure fair and open trials, and stop allongoing police raids and the excessive use of force against civilianprotesters.
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.