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Health Worker’s Release Is Positive Step—But Further Action Needed in Bahrain

For Immediate Release

Today’s decision by an appeals court in Bahrain to release a hospital worker from prison is a very positive development, but the government must take additional steps if it is to make good on implementing its promised human rights reforms.

The court today reduced to one year the three-year sentence imposed by a military court in June 2011 on Younis Ashoori, a hospital worker convicted for delivering medical supplies to treat protesters wounded in demonstrations against the Bahraini regime. The appeals court’s decision resulted in Ashoori’s immediate release for time served.

“PHR is pleased that Mr. Ashoori can now be reunited with his family and receive the medical attention he needs,” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director of PHR. “But we call on Bahraini courts to dismiss the cases against all other health professionals convicted merely for following their ethical and professional obligations to treat injured people regardless of their views or activities.”

While 48 medics have been tried in two groups, Ashoori is one of several health professionals tried individually in military court. Two others remain in prison, having exhausted their appeals. Ahmed Almushatat, a health center pharmacist, was sentenced to three years (later reduced to two) for providing medications to injured protesters. Hassan Matooq, a pediatric emergency room nurse and amateur photographer, was sentenced to three years for illegally taking photographs and for participating in a public gathering. PHR has been unable to visit the men in prison, despite repeated requests.

“None of these health professionals should ever have been arrested,” Sollom said. “Mr. Ashoori should now be exonerated of all charges and permitted to return to his job, and all other health professionals still in prison should be released immediately."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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