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For Immediate Release

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

Cambridge, Mass. - 08/06/2012

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 an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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