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For Immediate Release

Bahrain Must End Travel Restrictions Imposed on Human Rights Organizations

Cambridge, Mass. - 03/02/2012

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today made public a joint letter from four leading human rights organizations to the Kingdom of Bahrain calling for an end to the five-day travel limit imposed on all human rights and humanitarian workers traveling to Bahrain.

On February 28, PHR was notified by Bahrain's Human Rights and Social Development Ministry of the new travel restrictions which limit travel within Bahrain to five-day trips which must be arranged through a Bahraini sponsor.

PHR, Amnesty International, and Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch stated in the letter, “We must object to the conditions placed on our visits, in particular the extremely short timeframe. The five-business-day limit appears to be arbitrary and will greatly impede our ability to monitor and research human rights developments.”

The new limitations of travel contradict the oral commitments Bahrain and other officials made in meetings with PHR, and to the United Nations, regarding access for international human rights organizations.

“If the King is truly committed to reforms he cannot continue to impose these arbitrary boundaries which prevent real and meaningful investigations by impartial, outside observers,” said Richard Sollom, PHR’s Deputy Director who was refused entry into Bahrain in January. “Unless the Government of Bahrain has something to hide, there is no reason that human rights investigators shouldn’t be allowed in the country for 10, 15, or even 50 days.”

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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