Human Rights in Bahrain
I know that the British Government monitors events in Bahrain closely. Where there are concerns on specific issues, including prison conditions, the UK raises these with the Bahraini authorities. It also encourages those with concerns about treatment in detention to report these to the relevant human rights oversight bodies, and encourages those oversight bodies to carry out swift and thorough investigations into such claims.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Embassy in Bahrain have follow cases closely, and where there are concerns, these have been raised with the authorities in Bahrain.
I believe, however, that it is right that the UK Government makes no apology for the partnership with Bahrain – our two countries share a close and lasting bond that dates back more than 200 years. This partnership is built on mutual interests, shared threats and a desire to promote greater security and peace in the Gulf. That said, Bahrain certainly has more work to do on human rights and that is why it is one of the FCO’s Human Rights Priority Countries.
In my view, the best approach with human rights is to engage with Governments and work with international partners and civil society organisations to promote and defend universal freedoms, and bring about positive change.
I am encouraged that the UK will continue to support Bahrain to address human rights concerns, both through bilateral engagement and through international institutions. However, it is right to acknowledge and welcome the steps that Bahrain is taking to address a range of rights issues.
The depth and breadth of the UK’s relationship with Bahrain means the UK Government can, and does, express its concerns about human rights in a frank and open way at senior levels. It does this publicly, but crucial and more often, in private discussions. The FCO’s latest annual human rights report outlined action taken by the UK, relating, for example, to the prison sentence given to Nabeel Rajab, as well as concerns about the deprivation of nationality, where that renders an individual stateless.
I was encouraged by the decision of the Bahraini Minister of Justice to refer the cases of Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa back to the Court of Cassation for retrial.