Bahraini Medics Await Appeal Verdict on Thursday
Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow’s appeal of the jail sentences handed down for 23 Bahrain medics is a key test for the Bahraini regime as its human rights crisis continues, said Human Rights First. In November 2012, the 23 medics were all sentenced to three months in prison after treating wounded protestors following the Bahrain uprising in February 2011.
“If Bahrain hopes to lose its international reputation as a country that tortures and jails its medics, it can start by acquitting these 23 people,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who has attended proceedings in the case and who has kept in close contact with medics involved in tomorrow’s appeal.
Though the 23 medics awaiting tomorrow’s appeal verdict have not been detained, several other Bahraini medics have remained in prison after separate convictions in cases stemming from perceived association with the protests. Among the charges against the 23 awaiting verdicts tomorrow is taking part in “illegal assemblies.”
“Many of the 23 medics gave us consistent and credible accounts of being mistreated or tortured in custody, as well as being forced into making false confessions,” said Dooley. “Tomorrow’s verdict could well define how Bahrain plans to deal with its ongoing human rights crisis. Those of us who have been with the medics in court know that their trial fell far short of international standards and that they should be acquitted.”
In addition to tomorrow’s appeal case, Bahrain’s problems continue as some of its highest profile dissidents have embarked on prison hunger strikes. Prominent human rights activists Abdulhadi al Khawaja and his daughter, Zainab al Khawaja, are both in jail on politically-motivated charges and are hunger striking in protest at prison conditions.
“Instead of filling its jails with medics and human rights activists, Bahrain should be prosecuting the senior government officials responsible for torture and killings,” concluded Dooley. “The Kingdom can’t possibly fulfill its promise to reform without taking steps to correct these past mistakes.”