Beirut, 29 January, 2012 – The Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights would like to express in the strongest possible terms their profound concern following the arbitrary arrest and detention of two medical staff , Dental Assistant Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag and Head of Dental Nurses Aqeela Radhi Hammad, which represents a continuation of targeting trends that evolved over the previous months in Bahrain that include medical staff, teachers, students, journalists, worker, as well as human rights defenders.
According to accurate information received by GCHR & BCHR, Dental Assistant Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag has been taken from her workplace in Salmaniya hospital on Thursday, January 26, 2012, allegedly she was to have taken first-aid medicines for the treatment of injured protesters, who suffer as a result of the suppression of the authorities. Al-Sabag's family was not able to know her whereabouts for hours after the arrest and they managed finally to see her at Hoora police station. Al-Sabag brought to the Criminal Investigation Directorate in the same night of her arrest and appeared before the public prosecutor, on the morning of 27th of January 2012, who made the decision to keep her in custody for a week pending investigation on the alleged charge of exploitation of her Job to seize the money of the state, a charge denied by Al-Sabag. On Sunday morning, January 29, 2012, Head of Nurses Aqeela Radhi Hammad has been arrested, in what appears to be linked to the arrest of Halima Al-Sabag.
In a telephone conversation with her family on 28th of January, 2012 Halima Al-Sabag complained that the authorities have kept her in a cell with a number of defendants charged with "prostitution" in a move aimed at including coercion and psychological pressure on her, which is contrary to the provisions of articles of "the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners" issued by the United Nations, which stated in its article (63) (1) clearly that " The fulfillment of these principles requires individualization of treatment and for this purpose a flexible system of classifying prisoners in groups; " where the objective is explained in accordance with Article (67 / a) which states: "To separate from others those prisoners who, by reason of their criminal records or bad characters, are likely to exercise a bad influence; "
The criminal courts in Bahrain are still considering the cases of about 48 medics because of their involvement in the treatment of wounded demonstrators. On the 29th of September 2011, a group of 20 medics, who treated activists wounded during anti-government protests, have been sentenced, by the court of national safety, a military tribunal, to between 5 to 15 years in prison. At the same time, some members of the medical staff are still in prison, including administrator of Al-Muharraq Maternity Hospital, Younis Ashour, who has been sentenced by a military court to four years in prison, Nurse Hassan Maatoq, sentenced by a military court to three years in prison, and Essa Al-Bahrani who is still awaiting trial on charges of gathering since December 2011. All this is happening, although reports by international human rights organizations and Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), confirmed the exposure of medics to ill-treatment and torture in order to extract confessions that have been used later in cases against them.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights call on the government of Bahrain to:
- The immediate release of the two members of the medical staff, Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag and Aqeela Radhi Hammad, and drop all the charges directed against them.
- The release of all medical personnel who are still in prison on the back of their humanitarian duties in the treatment of wounded demonstrators.
- Immediately stop targeting the medics in Bahrain, stop the unfair trials, drop all charges and sentences passed against them, and compensate them and their families for all damages incurred.
- End the security control of the Salmaniya medical hospital and ensure the right of individuals to have treatment without the risk of detention or torture.
- The separation of prisoners according to the nature of their cases as stated in Article (68), which says: " So far as possible separate institutions or separate sections of an institution shall be used for the treatment of the different classes of prisoners." and in paragraph (2) of Article (63) " These institutions need not provide the same degree of security for every group. It is desirable to provide varying degrees of security according to the needs of different groups."
For more information, please contact:
Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English) +973-396-333-99
Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English) +961-701-595-52