Debate on Bahrain

Human Rights’ issues worldwide are not raised within a confined space, but rather in a wider circle that encompasses the media, the International organizations and Parliaments, whereby a human rights issue in one country could well be treated, in another, as an internal issue that warrants debating about in Parliament, such as the case in the UK, Germany and the United States.

Following, are examples of such debates, concerning Bahrain, inside the British House of Commons, with questions raised and answers given that reflect the causes of concern and the progress made with regard to the issues on the table.

Q Asked by Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he and Ministers in his Department have made to their counterparts in Bahrain on the use of torture in that country.

A Answered by: Mr Tobias Ellwood

Answered on: 05 March 2015

The UK regularly discusses issues of reform with the government of Bahrain. In January, My Rt Hon and noble Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Baroness Anelay met the Bahraini justice minister and discussed the importance of holding police officers accused of mistreatment to account. Our Ambassador to Bahrain has raised our concerns over allegations of torture and mistreatment with Bahraini ministers. In addition to voicing these concerns, the UK is providing practical assistance to the Government of Bahrain to prevent the use of torture and to address allegations of its use. In particular, the UK is providing support to the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman and the Special Investigations Unit, both of whom have responsibility for investigating allegations against security personnel. When allegations are made, we continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to investigate promptly, thoroughly and impartially and hold any person found guilty of such charges accountable.

Q Asked by Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will take steps to institute additional scrutiny of sales of defence and security equipment to Bahrain; and if he will take additional measures to further prevent the sale to Bahrain of defence equipment which would be used against civilians.

A Answered by: Matthew Hancock

Answered on: 07 January 2015

The UK operates one of the most rigorous export control systems in the world. All export licence applications are carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking into account all prevailing circumstances at the time of application. Exports to Bahrain continue to be subject to close scrutiny, in particular under Criterion Two which concerns the ‘respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country of final destination as well as respect by that country for international humanitarian law’.

Q Asked by Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) [N]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to encourage civil rights and democracy in Bahrain.

A Answered by: Mr Tobias Ellwood

Answered on: 12 January 2015

I co-chaired the UK-Bahrain Joint Working Group meeting on 4 December 2014 with the Undersecretary of the Bahraini Ministry of the Interior, H.E Abdullah Abdulatif Abdulla. We discussed progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report and UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, and agreed that the UK would continue to provide assistance to Bahrain’s reform programme, with a continuing focus on strengthening human rights and the rule of law, in 2015. The British Government will continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to build on the success of the recent elections and move forward with further reform to advance the democratisation and human rights agenda.