Detention of medics in Bahrain
Sir, – Throughout the past year, we have observed a number of articles regarding the case of the medical personnel in Bahrain, often excluding a statement from an official.
I would like to emphasise the legal and ethical breaches that were committed by the medical staff, none of which would be tolerated in any society. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its report these serious violations. “Open areas outside the SMC buildings were occupied by protesters, who controlled the entrances and exits”, including the Emergency Section, the ICU, and most of SMC’s ground level (paragraphs 847, 833); the medical staff “moved in and out of their roles as political activists and medical personnel” (paragraph 834), including hosting unauthorised marches inside and outside the hospital (paragraph 837).
The commission found that the involvement of the medical personnel in political activities on and around SMC made it difficult for them to carry out “full exercise of their medical responsibilities and (were) highly disruptive to the optimum operation of an important medical facility in a time of crisis. (paragraph 847). Many of these violations have been documented and can be seen on YouTube: youtu.be/St2cSOABs30. Nonetheless, the Bahraini government continues to push for reconciliation and advocates social unity as the necessary ingredient in advancing the country forward. It was important the independent judiciary staff issue the verdicts with this in mind.
The medics were all guaranteed due process and a fair trial, which granted the acquittal of nine medics in June 2012; significantly reducing the original sentences of the remaining defendants; as well as the immediate release of three medics due to time served. It should also be noted that Mahmood Asghar has already been released for time served, and Dhia Idris is set to be released next month.
At a time of severe unrest where medical attention was of utmost necessity, many citizens were denied healthcare from the largest hospital facility in the country. This injustice caused to the majority of citizens should not be neglected. – Yours, etc,