Academic and medical freedom in Bahrain
Sir, – I am delighted that Dr Maurice Manning has opened a debate on academic freedom in Bahrain and on the roles and responsibilities of the NUI and its affiliate colleges abroad. I am further delighted that he, as chancellor of NUI, visited Bahrain to “see conditions at first hand” (Education, June 11th). There my delight ends.
Dr Manning’s comment that there “has been a normalisation of relations” in that country suggests he did not meet any of those who suffered and continue to suffer under one of the most brutally oppressive regimes on the planet; a regime which has inflicted most repugnant and deplorable physical and psychological wounds on the citizenry.
Did Chancellor Manning meet the detained and tortured RCSI alumni and staff? Did he meet any of the detained and tortured teachers in Bahrain or any of the detained and tortured lawyers or students or journalists? Did he meet the family of Dr Ali AlEkri, the Irish trained surgeon who remains incarcerated? What was Dr Manning’s function in Bahrain if not to satisfy himself that academic freedom had been restored to the satisfaction of NUI? And what exactly does the chancellor mean when he suggests that “If countries adopt [human rights] principles which others don’t adopt they may be at a competitive disadvantage”?
Dr Manning should know that NUI , as an organ of the state, and its affiliate colleges, including RCSI, are obliged under the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, Section 3 (1) to “perform its functions in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the Convention provisions”.
RCSI’s silence during the months of torture of its alumni and staff in Bahrain have caused it significant international reputational damage. That reputational damage is contagious and NUI now need to clarify its position. I would recommend that all alumni carefully read the NUI’s Human Rights Principles and Code of Conduct, written in conjunction with RCSI and publicly voice their opinion as to its probity and practicality. – Yours, etc,