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For Immediate Release

PHR Continues Calls For Fair Trials of Bahrain Medics

Charges against 15 medics are not dropped, despite claims of Attorney General

Cambridge, Mass. - 03/15/2012

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today criticized the Bahraini court for not adhering to the Attorney General’s statements from earlier this week. On March 13 it was reported that Bahrain’s Attorney General intended to drop the charges against 15 medics. Today, the judge and prosecutor in the medics’ trial said any decision regarding the dropping of charges will need to be made in court.

“It appears that the government of Bahrain continues its consistent pattern of releasing misleading and contradictory information,” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director of PHR. “The government is still seeking to intimidate those whose first duty is to care for the sick and wounded. Each weekend, government forces assault Shia neighborhoods with tear gas. By continuing to charge these medics and refusing to investigate the torture of those who were detained, they are sending a clear message to all medics—don’t report human rights violations. We believe that it is the duty of medics to speak up when they see human rights violations.”

“We have been down this road too many times before. Over the past year, the Bahraini government, including cabinet members and government officials, has made false statements and hollow promises,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer at PHR. “Enough is enough. It is time the government backs up their rhetoric with action.”

PHR has continually called for the charges against all medics to be dismissed and the torture of medics documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to be thoroughly investigated. Today the court also refused to accept a list of international experts that the defense suggested should examine the medics.

PHR continues to call for qualified forensic and medical evaluations of all detainees in Bahrain using the gold standard of torture investigations – the U.N. Istanbul Protocol, which PHR helped to develop. 

“All medics who allege that they were tortured in detention must be granted access to the reports from the BICI and independently evaluated by qualified experts,” said Sollom. “Until these demands are met, there cannot be fair trials for the medics.”

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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