On March 28, a civilian court in Bahrain overturned the convictions against 21 Bahraini medics who had been convicted and sentenced last year for participating in illegal gatherings during the 2011 Bahrain uprising. While the acquittal of these 21 medics represents a positive step for the Bahrain government, more than a dozen medical professionals remain convicted of politically-motivated charges. Additionally, many of the medics who were acquitted have yet to return to their jobs, and none have received compensation for the treatment they endured.
“The acquittal of the twenty-one medics is welcome news, but we remain deeply concerned about the two medics whose charges still stand,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “We are also very concerned about the lack of accountability for the abuse these medics were subjected to during their detention. For justice to fully be served, the Government of Bahrain must release the remaining imprisoned medics, compensate those who were subjected to abuse during detention, and reinstate them to their previous positions. Furthermore, the Government of Bahrain needs to launch a full investigation into allegations of abuse against these medics and other detainees, and hold accountable those responsible for the abuse—including high-level officers.”
ADHRB was not alone in its commendation of the court’s decision. Dr. Deborah D. Ascheim, Board Chair at Physicians for Human Rights, said the decision “goes some distance toward correcting what has been a gross miscarriage of justice,” but urged the Bahrain government to immediately release all prisoners of conscience and offer compensation to those harmed by arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture. Brian Dooley of Human Rights First called the acquittals “horribly late,” and called upon the Government of Bahrain to publicly identify and hold accountable those senior officials responsible for ordering torture to be used to force confessions from the medics.