Cambridge, MA - 11/21/2012

PHR today expressed dismay at the decision by Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court to sentence 23 health professionals to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted.

“We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Bahraini regime once again has decided to punish health professionals merely for expressing their right to peaceful assembly,” said Richard Sollom, deputy director of PHR. “Instead of punishing these dedicated professionals, the Government of Bahrain should focus on prosecuting the people responsible for torturing many of those who were arrested and detained.”

The 23 people convicted today include 12 physicians, as well as nurses and other health professionals. All are expected to appeal their convictions. Four other health professionals whose appeals were denied in October are in prison serving sentences ranging from one to five years.

“It’s now been a year since the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry released its report, and the government’s pledge to carry out the commission’s recommendations has been shown to be hollow,” Sollom said. “Once again, we call on the regime to reverse the convictions of all health professionals, to expunge those convictions from their records, to restore them to their jobs, and to compensate them for the time they lost in having to challenge these spurious charges.”

The commission, established by the king to investigate charges of human rights abuses, recommended that the government review and commute the sentences of all persons charged with offenses involving peaceful political expression and to drop any outstanding charges against them.

Since early 2011, PHR health teams have visited Bahrain three times to document human rights abuses, including systematic attacks on health professionals and patients.

“None of these health professionals belongs in prison,” said Sollom. “How long must it take for the Government of Bahrain to reform its security and judicial systems to ensure that all of its citizens can enjoy freedom and justice?”

The twenty-eight health professionals list:

1. Ali Said Abdullah, assistant paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 2. Dr. Sadiq Abdulla, transplant surgeon — ACQUITTED 3. Ameen Jaffer Abdullah Ahmed, paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 4. Hamza Hassan Esa Ali, auxiliary — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 5. Dr. Jalila Al-Aali, endocrinologist — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 6. Dr. Dunia Al-Hashimi — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 7. Hassan Ali Al-Saffi, Assistant Paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 8. Hani Al-Aswad, ambulance driver, Salmaniya Medical Complex — CONVICTED,sentenced to 3 MONTHS 9. Ibrahim Al-Demistani, nurse  — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 10. Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Hassan Al-Durazi — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 11. Abdulhussain Ali Ebrahim — ACQUITTED 12. Dr. Kulood Yaqob Al-Sayyad, senior pediatric resident — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 13. Dr. Nehad Al-Shirawi, ICU consultant (specialist) — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 14. Dr. Kulood Al-Durazi, consultant, obstetrician and gynecologist — ACQUITTED 15. Dr. Abdulshaheed Fadhel, plastic surgeon — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 16. Mohammed Ali Fateel, Assistant Paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 17. Ali Ahmed Esa Ghanim — ACQUITTED 18. Dr. Nabeel Hameed, neurosurgeon — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 19. Sayed Adnan Ateya Mohammed, paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 20. Abdulkareem Abdullah Saleh Hassan — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 21. Ebrahim Hassan Ali Hassan — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 22. Dr. Jaffer Salman Ahmed Hassan — ACQUITTED 23. Dr. Sadiq Jaffar, pediatric resident, Salmaniya Medical Complex — CONVICTED,sentenced to 3 MONTHS 24. Jameela Abdulhussain Jassim, nurse — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 25. Dr. Arif Rajab, dental surgeon — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 26. Abdul Ameer Abdullah Salman, assistant paramedic — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 27. Dr. Nayera Sarhan, consultant, family physician — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS 28. Dr. Nabeel Tammam, ENT surgeon — CONVICTED, sentenced to 3 MONTHS