WMA calls for the release of imprisoned health professionals in Bahrain

(27.11.2014) Concern over the imprisonment by the Bahrain authorities of two doctors and a nurse has been raised by the World Medical Association in a letter to the King of Bahrain.

WMA President Dr. Xavier Deau, in a letter to the King, writes: ‘We would like to express our utmost concern about the particular situation of Dr. ‘Ali ’Issa Mansoor al-'Ekri, a consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, who was arrested in March 2011 in Salmaniya hospital and has been sentenced to five years of prison by the High Criminal Court of Appeal in Manama in June 2012. According to Amnesty International, Dr. al-Ekri is imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly and is, as such, a prisoner of conscience. We therefore urge you to release him immediately and unconditionally.

‘We would also like to raise once again the case of the nurse Ebrahim ‘Abdullah Ebrahim al-Dumestani and Dr. Saeed Al-Samahiji, both also in detention and expected to be released respectively in April and July 2015. Amnesty International also considers both as prisoners of conscience.’

The prison sentences of Dr. ‘Ali ’Issa Mansoor al-‘Ekri and Ebrahim ‘Abdullah Ebrahim al-Dumestani followed the detention and trial of the 20 health professionals who were arrested during events in March and April 2011. Dr. Saeed Al-Samahiji was arrested on 1 July to serve a one-year sentence for “insulting the King of Bahrain”.

Dr. Deau adds in his letter : ‘The World Medical Association is extremely worried by these on-going practices undermining the fundamental right to freedom of expression of health professionals. International human rights standards enshrined the right of conscience and expression. The Kingdom of Bahrain ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in September 2006, hereby establishing its consent to be bound by the provisions of the Covenant. We would like to emphasize in particular the Article 19 (2) of the Covenant providing that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.

‘We urge that the Bahraini authorities reconsider the cases, with due regard to the humanity and justice apparently denied, of these three health professionals in the light of commitments made and recommend their unconditional and immediate release’.