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For Immediate Release

Bahrain Attorney General’s Decision to Hold New Civilian Trials for Doctors Welcomed

PHR calls for investigation of allegations of torture in detention

Cambridge, Mass - 10/05/2011

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today welcomed the decision by Bahrain’s Attorney General to hold civilian trials for 20 doctors who were sentenced last week as alleged backers of anti-government protests. While an important step towards achieving justice for the doctors, PHR is still troubled by allegations the medics were tortured while they were in detention.

“We are encouraged to hear that the Government of Bahrain is listening to the calls of the international community, Bahraini doctors and human rights activists and has ordered a retrial for the doctors in a civilian court,” said Richard Sollom, PHR’s Deputy Director and lead investigator in Bahrain. “However, any trial must include independent forensic evaluations of the medics to establish if torture or inhumane treatment occurred.  Any forced confessions that may have resulted from these acts must also be discarded.”

Additionally, PHR calls for all protestors to be tried before a civilian court. An estimated 350 protestors remain in detention and thousands have been unfairly convicted, abused or fired from their jobs. All trials should adhere to internationally recognized standards of fairness that protect the rights of the accused.

Last week, PHR denounced the guilty verdicts and harsh sentences issued in Bahrain against 20 medical professionals and two protestors.

In April, PHR released the report Do No Harm, which detailed Bahrain’s systematic attacks on physicians, medical staff, and patients. PHR has continually condemned the human rights violations of all civilians during the popular uprising, and has called for all to receive fair trials.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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