Medical Council to be quizzed on Bahrain violations

The Medical Council will be asked to appear before the Oireachtas education committee to explain how it plans to accredit the Bahrain medical facility of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in light of human rights violations.

The request was decided on yesterday after a presentation by Ceartas, Irish Lawyers for Human Rights, a non-profit organisation.

Gearóid Ó Cuinn, co-director of Ceartas, said there was a conflict between the council upholding the standards of the World Federation for Medical Education — which require facilities to be safe, appropriate and able to deliver on the core competencies — when those used by RCSI Bahrain “are not in an environment that lives up to Irish standards”.

Dr Ó Cuinn said claims of human rights violations “overshadow any claims of medical excellence”.

Dr Ó Cuinn said people hit by the “indiscriminate use of force by the Bahraini authorities” feared hospitals used by the RCSI in training amid RCSI Open Days being sponsored by the Bahraini defence forces.

An Irish-trained doctor and RCSI fellow, Dr Ali Al-Ekri, remains in prison in Bahrain for his criticism of the regime. Dr Ó Cuinn said they are also aware of 30 RCSI students denied work placements for being Shia rather than Sunni Muslims.

The committee agreed to write to the Medical Council inviting it to appear before it and to also write to Education Minister Ruairí Quinn requesting an urgent investigation to see if the college is operating according to appropriate standards.

Last night, RCSI said it had no evidence of ongoing abuses: “Neither our staff, nor our students, has reported anything of this nature. We are not aware of any ongoing persecution of medical personnel. We understand one doctor associated with RCSI remains in prison with a five-year sentence. In the last two years, RCSI have made formal representations and written to King Hamad asking that all outstanding charges be dropped and urging the release of all prisoners.”

The Medical Council said it had not scheduled a date for an accreditation visit to the Bahrain facility.


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