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23 Bahraini Health Professionals Acquitted of Misdemeanors
April 3, 2013
On March 28, 2013, after a long and arduous process, 23 Bahraini health professionals had their convictions overturned on appeal. Originally tried as a group of 28 health professionals, they worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama during the February and March 2011 protests against the government. The 28 health professionals were arrested in March and April 2011 for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression and for fulfilling their duties to as health professionals toexercise medical neutrality and treat anyone who is ill or injured.
Before their release on bail, the detained health professionals were held in incommunicado detention for several weeks during which most were tortured.They were charged with “inciting hatred against the regime” and “taking part in an illegal gathering.” At first tried before the military National Safety Court, the case of the 28 health professionals was transferred to the civilian Lower Criminal Court in Manamafollowing the June 29, 2011, decree from the King of Bahrain that all cases linked to the February-March 2011 protests would be transferred to ordinary courts. There were numerous and lengthy delays in the hearings. Nearly 18 months after the trial commenced, the court announced its verdict on November 21, 2012. It acquitted 5 medics and convicted the remaining 23 on sentences of 3 months in prison and required them to pay a fine of 200 BD ($530 USD). The five health professionals who were acquitted in November 2012 are: Sadiq Abdulla (transplant surgeon), Kulood al-Durazi (obstetrician/gynecologist), Jaffar Salman Ahmed (paramedic), Ali Ahmed Esa Ghanim (paramedic), and Abdulhussain Ali Ebrahim (paramedic).
The remaining 23 health professionals appealed their convictions, which were overturned on March 28, 2013. The 23 acquitted in March 2013 are: Jalila al-Aali (endocrinologist), Ali Said Abdullah (assistant paramedic), Hamza Hassan Esa Ali (auxiliary professional), Hani al-Aswad (ambulance driver), Ibrahim al-Demistani (nurse), Abdullah Mohammed Hassan al-Durazi, Abdulshaheed Fadhel (plastic surgeon), Mohammed Ali Fateel (assistant paramedic), Dunia al-Hashimi, Abdulkareem Abdullah Saleh Hassan, Ebrahim Hassan Ali Hassan, Ameen Jaffer Abdullah Ahmed (paramedic), Hassan Ali al-Saffi (assistant paramedic), Kulood Yaqob al-Sayyad (senior pediatric resident), Nehad al-Shirawi (intensive care unit consultant /specialist), Nabeel Hameed (neurosurgeon), Sadiq Jaffar (pediatric resident), Jameela Abdulhussain Jassim (nurse), Sayed Adnan Ateya Mohammed (paramedic), Arif Rajab (dental surgeon), Addul Ameer Abdullah Salman (assistant paramedic), Nayera Sarhan (family physician), and Nabeel Tammam (ear, nose, and throat specialist).
The CHR and the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies undertook the health professionals’ cases shortly after their arrest and appealed for their release to high-level Bahraini government officials on the grounds that they were targeted solely for carrying out their duties as health professionals. Following its May 2012 meeting where members met with one of the medical doctors facing charges, the HR Network’s Executive Committee made a public appeal to the King of Bahrain in behalf of the 28 health professionals, which we hope had an impact.