Bahrain: health workers convicted to prison sentences

arrestOn 21 November, 23 health professionals in Bahrain were sentenced to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted.

Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights said: "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. 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 already serving sentences ranging from one to five years.

Last year, a Commission of Inquiry established by the King of Bahrain 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. However, the court did not follow this advice.

"None of these health professionals belongs in prison," said Sollom. "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."

Source: Physicians for Human Rights website

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