Published 03 April 2014
Ceartas (Irish Lawyers for Human Rights) has told the Medical Independent (MI) that it “welcomes” the intended visit to Bahrain by the Irish Medical Council later this year. Yesterday, the Council’s CEO Ms Caroline Spillane told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection that it is processing a request to review the basic medical education programme at RCSI-Bahrain.
“An assessment team is being identified and pre-assessment visit information has been requested by the Medical Council from RCSI-Bahrain,” said Ms Spillane. “The Medical Council is conscious of the political developments in Bahrain; indeed our earlier plans to review the basic medical education programme at RCSI-Bahrain were postponed owing to same.”
According to Ms Spillane, the previous President of the Medical Council, Prof Kieran Murphy, and current President Prof Freddie Wood have written to a number of political leaders, including An Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Health and to the Higher Education Authority, expressing the Medical Council’s “concern at the situation” in Bahrain.
Responding to the announcement, a Ceartas spokesperson told MI: "Ceartas welcomes the planned visit to Bahrain by the Irish Medical Council announced today, a rare instance of external oversight in a country off-limits to human rights organisations. Site visits to evaluate the suitability of hospitals are standard practice in Ireland. They are the facilities where students gain the bulk of their clinical training, including in medical ethics. Unfortunately hospitals in Bahrain continue to intersect with human rights violations as documented by numerous human rights organisations.”
The spokesperson added: “The Medical Council, as a public body bound by Irish human rights law, is obliged to take these into consideration when accrediting RCSI-Bahrain and to impose conditions where there is a divergence from Irish standards. Failure to do so risks validating a system that is routinely accused of torture, violations of medical neutrality and discrimination - none of which would be acceptable in Ireland."
In a submission to the Council last year, Ceartas stated that during any accreditation process it was obliged to consider the alleged torture and ill-treatment of patients within hospitals used by the RCSI and the “continued persecution of medical professionals for their treatment of protesters”, following unrest and mass protests for political reform in 2011.