Twenty medical professionals in Bahrain continue to fightfor vindication from politically motivated charges against them. Last Thursday,Bahraini courts denied these medicalpersonnel yet another form of justice.
These imprisoned doctors allege Bahraini authorities torturedthem in detention as a means to extract confessions from them. On Thursday,Bahraini courts acquiesced to public pressure and formed a three-membercommittee to investigate these torture claims – but this recently formedcommittee may be far from impartial and unequipped to investigate properlyallegations of torture.
One member of the committee is a forensic doctor who worksat the Ministry of Interior (MOI) -technically this makes him an employee ofthe prosecution.
The court’s formation of this committee also suggests thatthe court has no intention of admitting into evidence an independent reportthat has already determined that many of the medics suffered psychological andphysical torture while detained.
Last summer, the Bahrain Independent Commission for Inquiry (BICI) assembled an international team of forensic experts—among them three Americandoctors—to investigate these allegations of torture. The American doctorsexamined five of the accused medical professionals, and found evidence oftorture.
In November 2011, the BICI published a report which referred to evidence of torture, but the BICI has never made public anymedical forensic records investigating these acts. The defense team has foughtto obtain copies of these medical documents. The court has not made thesereports available to the defense, nor has it allowed them to be admitted intoevidence.
Instead, this new committee casts serious doubt on whetherthe accused doctors can hope for justice. All accused doctors must be examinedby an independent and impartial team of forensic investigators, and those whowere previously examined should receive copies of the medical documentationthat support their torture claims.