IRCT submits medical report on Al-Khawaja and issues recommendations to Government of Bahrain13-04-2012
The IRCT has sent the medical report on Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja today – the 65th day of his hunger strike - to the Bahraini authorities. It has also provided the report to Mr Alkhawaja’s legal representative.
Subsequent to confidential private and medical information, the report makes the following recommendations:
- Because Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja is at risk of death if the hunger strike continues for any extended period, the government should acknowledge this fact and not impede any steps that might bring the hunger strike voluntarily to a temporary or permanent end.
- The government should restate a commitment to ethical health care for Mr. Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja while he is refusing food, including a commitment not to force feed him. Despite the ill-treatment to which Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja has been subjected and the effects of prolonged food refusal, he should be able to recover from his period of fasting if he agrees to take food voluntarily very soon. On the other hand, he could suffer a serious downturn in health if he continues to refuse food, with death being imminent after more than nine weeks of hunger strike.
- The government should express a willingness to address the grievances of the prisoner since these are the core issues driving the hunger strike. The abundant evidence that Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja was ill-treated or tortured after his arrest should require the government to investigate the torture and hold to account those responsible. This grievance together with his trial and sentence form the basis of his hunger strike. His concerns cannot be measured by medical examination but require a legal response. As a survivor of torture he should be provided with redress including “the means for as full rehabilitation as possible” (Art 14 of the United Nations Convention against Torture) which is manifestly not happening.
- If Mr Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja does express a wish to resume taking food, this should be done with care under medical supervision to avoid refeeding syndrome, the serious and potentially lethal metabolic imbalances that occur when food is given to a person after a period of fasting.
- The government of Bahrain should review the need for training of health and legal professionals with respect to the rights of prisoners not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment, the right to health of prisoners and detainees, the ethical framework that applies in hunger strikes, and the obligations on doctors to refuse to participate in or condone torture. The particular challenges posed by dual loyalties – the doctor’s obligation to the patient and also to the doctor’s employer – require particular attention.
- The author of this report is willing to facilitate referral of Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja for expert medical care if this is acceptable to both Mr Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja and the government of Bahrain.
Head of Communications, IRCT
Tel: +45 36 93 87 32 / +45 29 37 50 10
About The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims is an independent non-profit global organisation with a membership of 146 rehabilitation centres in 73 countries and with over 25 years' experience.
The work of the IRCT is threefold:
* Rehabilitation of torture victims and their families
* Ensuring victims' access to justice
* Eradication of torture