For Immediate Release: October 1, 2012
Washington, DC – A Bahraini appeal court has upheld the convictions of nine medics who treated demonstrators in last year’s uprising. Human Rights First notes the verdicts are indicative of the human rights backslide happening in the Kingdom.
“Today was another moment of truth for the Bahrain regime, one it again failed miserably,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who was in one of the appeal court hearings with the medics in March 2012. “These medics are going to prison for treating the injured and for telling the world about the regime’s crackdown. This isn’t the kind of progress that the Kingdom keeps promising the world is under way.”
Today’s appeal verdicts follow the original sentences given by the military court to the 20 medics in September 2011. The medics were arrested, detained and tortured into giving false confessions last year and were released from custody while their appeal was under way. In June 2012 some of the 20 were acquitted while nine had their convictions confirmed and were sentenced to jail terms of between one month and five years. It was an appeal against these convictions and jail terms that was rejected today.
The United States government sent observers to the medics’ trial, and has urged the Bahrain regime “to abide by its commitment to transparent judicial proceedings, including a fair trial, access to attorneys, and verdicts based on credible evidence conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations.” Dooley notes that this has clearly not happened today, and the U.S. government should say so clearly and publicly.
“September was a terrible month for human rights in Bahrain,” observed Dooley. “Thirteen leading dissidents had long prison sentences against them upheld by the courts, prominent human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Zainab al Khawaja lost appeal cases to release them from prison and a teenage boy was killed by the police. These verdicts open October in a similarly ominous style.”
In another case brought against 28 other medics a verdict is expected tomorrow.
Last month, the Bahraini Government pledged to implement more than 140 of the 176 recommendations laid out in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted by the United National Human Rights Council. At the time, Human Rights First noted the pledge was welcome news, but cautioned that the Kingdom has reneged on similar promises in the past.