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For Immediate Release

PHR Encouraged by U.S. Government’s Decision to Delay Arms Sale to Bahrain in Response to Abuses

Significant and measurable changes must be made before sale proceeds

Cambridge, Mass - 10/20/2011

Following Physicians for Human Rights’ (PHR) call for the Obama Administration to halt a 53 million dollar arms sale to Bahrain, PHR today applauds the decision by the U.S. Government to delay the sale until it reviews Bahrain’s investigation of alleged human rights abuses and implementing reforms.  

“This is a good first step, but before this sale moves forward, there must be significant and measurable improvements for the citizens of Bahrain,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer of PHR. “If the Government of Bahrain wants to show that it is truly committed to human rights, it must start by ensuring fair trials for all citizens, reinstating all employees who were dismissed for peacefully protesting, and ceasing all acts of torture and other inhumane treatment.”

As part of these changes, PHR renews calls for the Kingdom of Bahrain to drop all charges against the medics who will appear before an appeals court on October 23 as well as at least 350 protesters who are also detained.  

“The announcement by Bahrain’s Attorney General to hold civilian trials for the 20 doctors who were sentenced as alleged backers of anti-government protests was encouraging,” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at PHR. “However, this small step is not enough. We are still troubled by the allegations of torture and forced confessions for all those who were detained. Justice and torture are simply incompatible.”  

On November 23, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry will release its findings based on a two month investigation in Bahrain. “If this report is going to provide any real insight into the human rights abuses that occurred in Bahrain, there must be qualified forensic and medical evaluations of all detainees using the gold standard of torture investigations – the U.N. Istanbul Protocol, which PHR helped develop.  Confessions or evidence derived from torture must not be used in court, and anyone who engaged in any acts of torture or ill treatment must be held accountable,” said Sollom.

PHR has continually condemned the human rights violations suffered by civilians during the popular uprising, and has called for all trials to uphold internationally recognized standards of fairness. 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 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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