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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 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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