The European Parliament Calls for:

National Dialogue, Accountability and Renouncing Violence

On 18 December 2012, a European Parliament delegation visited Bahrain in order to evaluate the human rights situation with the cooperation of the Bahraini Government. The visit was organised by the Bahraini Parliament and lasted for three days. During that time, the delegation met many Government officials, ministers, civil society organizations, political societies and prisoners such as: Abduhadi alKhawaja, Nabeel Rajab and Ibrahim Shareef.

A press conference was held at the end of the visit during which the delegation called on all political parties to immediately engage in national dialogue and exert all efforts to restore trust which was damaged due to the crisis. The delegation stressed also the importance of renouncing violence and initiating a constructive dialogue between all political parties.

The delegation also stressed the legitimacy of the demands of Bahraini society for freedom of expression and assembly as well as freedom of the press. It also stated that the 2014 elections should be an appropriate occasion to become part of the political solution. It also stressed the need to grant those whose nationalities have been revoked the right to resort to the judiciary. The importance of accountability was also stressed as it will encourage reconciliation. This is particularly important in the s?curity sector in order to improve human rights and build trust among victims. The delegation praised the establishment of an ombudsman office at the Ministry of Interior and stressed that it should be independent. Moreover, it praised Government efforts to reform the Penal Code and highlighted the importance of separating the Judiciary from the Ministry of Justice.

The delegation also praised what it called the constructive strategy of the Bahraini Government in the Universal Periodic Report and the allocation of the necessary resources. It also called upon the Government to ratify a number of agreements especially the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol for the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappeara?ce. The delegation urged the Government to cooperate further with OHCHR and the National Institution for Human Rights. The latter should monitor and protect the human rights of all Bahrainis as well as guarantee the freedom of all human rights defenders.

A senior member of the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee, Inese Vaidere, stressed that dialogue is the only solution to the crisis in Bahrain and that all groups should participate in finding a way out of the crisis. She also stressed the importance of making compromises and forgetting the past saying that the European Parliament will continue following the situation in Bahrain.

The delegation supported the recommendations of Dr. Bassiouni’s Independent Commission, which was approved by the King and the Government, and called for the setting up of a time frame for their speedy implementation. It also called for accountability in order to promote transparency and justice especially with cases involving the police. The delegation noted that the situation in Bahrain has improved and violence has decreased.