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Monday 14 October 2019

Call over Bahrain medical college

Ceartas said the Medical Council should not sanction the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain
Ceartas said the Medical Council should not sanction the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain

Human rights lawyers have urged the Medical Council not to sanction accreditation for an Irish medical college's operations in Bahrain.

The Ceartas group has claimed the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain (RCSI-Bahrain) has been overseeing the teaching of medics in the troubled Arab state while some patients are tortured and doctors imprisoned.

Reports from Medecins Sans Frontieres, the US-based Physicians for Human Rights and a Bahrain government committee all state widespread human rights abuses since an uprising began in early 2011.

Gearaid O Cuinn, co-director of Ceartas - Irish Lawyers for Human Rights, accused RCSI-Bahrain of using militarised hospitals and that medics are ordered to pass information on patients to the authorities.

"Our report shows how the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain is sending its students to be trained in militarised hospital facilities where patients, especially injured protesters, may be subjected to ill-treatment and in some cases torture," he said.

"Trainees and graduates also face discrimination in employment on the grounds of their religion. All of this has been well documented by numerous human rights groups."

The Medical Council has not given RCSI-Bahrain accreditation since its teaching operations began in 2004. But it is obliged to approve the college as its degrees are recognised in Ireland. RCSI now has about 1,200 students on its books in the Gulf state paying fees from 1,900 to 31,000 euro.

Bahrain saw major unrest when the so-called Pearl uprising began more than two years ago with pro-democracy protests by the Shia Muslim majority against the ruling Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy. Protesters have been shot dead on the street, tortured and imprisoned.

Scores of medics who treated them have been arrested and jailed and some have gone on hunger strike. Ceartas said women who have suffered miscarriages following indiscriminate tear gas exposure have reportedly been denied access to medical records.

A spokeswoman for the RCSI said many of the countries it works in are at "different stages in their political evolution". "We believe the future for Bahrain is one of dialogue and reconciliation. Our own national story tells us that this will not be resolved quickly. We will continue to contribute through our education programmes," she said.

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