For Immediate Release: August 28, 2011
Washington, DC — Today’s trial of doctors and other medics in Bahrain’s military court exposes that the country’s judicial process is a farce, Human Rights First said. The authorities reintroduced the military courts last week after having said they would abolish them and in today’s proceedings adjourned the health professionals’ case until September 7. It will resume again in the military court on that day.
“To hear the cases of civilians in a military court that falls far short of international standards of justice is totally illegitimate,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “When the Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts they lied to the defendants, to their families and to the world.”
The return to military trials undermines the Bahrain Government’s claim to take human rights violations seriously. The King of Bahrain appointed a commission, headed by Cherif Bassiouni, to investigate abuses. But the reversion to military courts exposes the monarchy’s real intentions to continue its crackdown on peaceful activists. The United States Government should publicly condemn these trials as shams and ask the Bahraini government to drop charges against those prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their opinions.
More than a dozen doctors and other medical professionals appeared before the military court today, including Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent over four months in custody. She studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas, and worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
“I met some of those on trial today when I was in Bahrain last month, “ said Dooley. “They told me credible and consistent stories of having been tortured in detention. The U.S. government should make clear that continuing with discredited military courts to try pro-democracy activists will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain.”