For Immediate Release
PHR Condemns Bahraini Authorities’ Denial of Entry to PHR Deputy Director on Eve of Doctors’ Trial
Calls for Complete Openness to Independent Human Rights Monitoring and further Delay in Arms Deal
Cambridge, Mass. - 01/08/2012
PHR today strongly condemned the actions taken by Bahraini border authorities who refused PHR’s Deputy Director Richard Sollom entrance into Bahrain. Sollom holds a valid visa and has received frequent invitations by senior Bahraini cabinet members to visit the country.
Sollom was traveling to Bahrain to monitor the appellate court trial of the 20 Bahraini medics with felony charges who provided care for protestors during popular uprisings last year. Thirteen of the medics, who include highly skilled specialists, have been sentenced by the National Safety Court (a hybrid military-civilian court) to 15 years in prison and the rest have been sentenced to 5 or 10 years in prison.
“In light of the international outcry triggered by the brutal crackdown in Bahrain against protestors earlier last year, the severity of human rights violations chronicled in the Bassiouni Report, and the continued violent attacks on demonstrators including the excessive and inappropriate use of tear gas, PHR was surprised by the obvious reluctance of the Bahraini government to allow an independent human rights investigator into the country,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer at Physicians for Human Rights.
“Blocking independent human rights observers from the trials of medical professionals casts greater doubt on the fairness of these proceedings,” said Sollom. “Bahraini officials continue to say that they are willing to introduce human rights reforms, however, these recent events severely undermine those claims and overshadow their commitment to ensuring that the medics’ trial is fair and open.”
PHR calls on the US government to further delay the pending military arms sale to Bahrain until the government of Bahrain makes measurable and irreversible progress on human rights, establishes accountability for past human rights violations, and guarantees full access to independent human rights observers.
PHR has continually condemned the government of Bahrain’s human rights violations against civilians during Bahrain’s popular uprising last year and has called for fair trials for all in civilian courts. An estimated 350 protestors remain in detention and thousands have been unfairly convicted, abused, or fired from their jobs. In April, PHR released the report Do No Harm, which detailed Bahrain’s systematic attacks on physicians, medical staff, and patients.
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.