In February 2018, the king issued a decree that centralizes Bahrain’s public ambulance operations under the Ministry of Interior. Furthermore, authorities typically require private hospitals to report patients that appear to have been injured in a protest. Security personnel are also often present in hospital facilities and can delay treatment with interrogations.
In 2016, Bahraini authorities charged Dr. Taha Al-Derazi, a prominent neuroscientist, with “illegal gathering” for reportedly participating in the peaceful demonstrations in the village of Duraz. The police blockaded the area after hundreds of people launched a sit-in around the home of Sheikh Isa Qasim, the country’s preeminent Shia religious leader, to protest the government’s decision to arbitrarily revoke the cleric’s nationality. Dr. al-Derazi was ultimately convicted and sentenced to three months in prison on appeal.
Prison officers routinely interfere with detainees’ access to treatment. Mohammad Sahwan died of “sudden cardiac arrest” while serving a 15 years in Jau Prison in 2017. Mohammad was sentenced in May 2012 under the anti-terrorism law after being shot in the back, legs, and head by police armed with shotguns. He was unable to receive full treatment for these injuries and prevented from receiving medical care, despite multiple requests.
Other prisoners of conscience include Hassan Mushaima, a survivor of lymphoma who has been prevented from receiving regular cancer screenings; Hussain Abdulwahab Hussain Ali Ismail who suffers from sickle-cell anemia and polyradiculoneuropathy (a disorder of the peripheral nervous system) and has not been provided proper access to a doctor; and Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, a survivor of polio who also has sickle-cell anemia and is confined to a wheelchair or crutches, but has regularly been denied access to medical care, including equipment for his crutches.
In 2011, over 60 medics were arrested and tortured and the authorities dismissed 200 medics from their jobs after security forces surrounded and took over Al-Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC). On 6 June 2011, a security court charged 47 health professionals, most of whom worked at SMC, during a closed hearing. Some served their full sentences, some had their sentences reduced, and some were eventually acquitted. Ali Al-Ekri, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, was arrested on 17 March 2011 while treating a teenage boy at SMC. Al-Ekri has served his five years prison sentence and was released on March 10, 2017. To date, at least 10 medical personnel remain dismissed from their previous positions at SMC, some of them having been forced into an early retirement scheme.