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For Immediate Release

Bahrain Court’s Acquittal of Military Officers Prompts PHR to Renew Its Call for Judicial Reform

New York, NY - 07/03/2013

Following a Bahraini criminal court’s acquittal this week of two military officers charged with torturing detainees and medical personnel, PHR renews its call for Bahrain’s government to make promised improvements to its justice system, including independent investigations and prosecutions that conform to internationally recognized legal standards of accountability.

The court’s acquittal of the two officers – Nora Al-Khalifa and Mubarak Bin Huail – comes 19 months after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) released a report calling for accountability for government officials and other perpetrators of human rights violations against Arab Spring protesters. The kingdom’s rulers pledged at the time to implement BICI’s recommendations.

“Fair trials by an impartial judiciary are an essential ingredient for rebuilding peace, trust, and democracy in Bahrain,” said Hans Hogrefe, PHR’s policy director. “Many Bahrainis are still waiting for the government to carry out the reforms it promised nearly two years ago.”

PHR also renews its call for the government to release four medical professionals convicted of crimes stemming from their treatment of wounded protesters. The four are Dr. Ali Alekri, an orthopedic surgeon sentenced to five years in prison; paramedic Ebrahim Aldemestani, sentenced to three years; nurse Hassan Matooq (three years); and nurse Haleema Alsabagh (one year).

“PHR has often urged Bahrain’s government to focus on prosecuting the people responsible for torturing and abusing protesters, rather than jailing the medical professionals who treated those in need,” Hogrefe said. “Unfortunately, Bahrain’s authorities have given us little grounds for optimism that the government has taken our calls for accountability for human rights violations to heart.” 

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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