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Proving Torture Allegations: Trouble with Bahraini Trial Continues

on March 12, 2012

Twenty medical professionals in Bahrain continue to fight for vindication from politically motivated charges against them. Last Thursday, Bahraini courts denied these medical personnel yet another form of justice.

These imprisoned doctors allege Bahraini authorities tortured them in detention as a means to extract confessions from them. On Thursday, Bahraini courts acquiesced to public pressure and formed a three-member committee to investigate these torture claims – but this recently formed committee may be far from impartial and unequipped to investigate properly allegations of torture.

One member of the committee is a forensic doctor who works at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) -technically this makes him an employee of the prosecution.

The court’s formation of this committee also suggests that the court has no intention of admitting into evidence an independent report that has already determined that many of the medics suffered psychological and physical torture while detained.

Last summer, the Bahrain Independent Commission for Inquiry (BICI) assembled an international team of forensic experts—among them three American doctors—to investigate these allegations of torture. The American doctors examined five of the accused medical professionals, and found evidence of torture.

In November 2011, the BICI published a report which referred to evidence of torture, but the BICI has never made public any medical forensic records investigating these acts. The defense team has fought to obtain copies of these medical documents. The court has not made these reports available to the defense, nor has it allowed them to be admitted into evidence.

Instead, this new committee casts serious doubt on whether the accused doctors can hope for justice. All accused doctors must be examined by an independent and impartial team of forensic investigators, and those who were previously examined should receive copies of the medical documentation that support their torture claims.

Places: Bahrain