Human Rights in Bahrain January 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding human rights in Bahrain.

I recognise that a number of charities and human rights organisations have expressed continuing concerns about the situation in Bahrain, particularly around allegations of arbitrary detention, unfair trials and restrictions on personal and political freedoms.

As you are aware, the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), an independent commission into human rights abuses, made no fewer than 26 recommendations. It is disappointing, therefore, that serious human rights concerns remain and that organisations such as the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) have warned that Government repression in Bahrain has intensified in some cases.

The UK Government has stated that the Bahraini authorities have made some welcome progress on its reform programme in recent years, particularly in the areas of youth justice, the establishment of the Ombudsman's office, the Prisoner and Detainees' Rights Commission and the reformed National Institute of Human Rights.

I do believe, however, that much greater urgency needs to be shown in implementing the recommendations of the BICI, and I hope the UK Government will continue to stress to the Bahraini Government the importance of fulfilling these recommendations, and continue to encourage it to meet its human rights obligations.

As you are aware, Bahrain is currently listed as a 'case study' in the FCO's annual Human Rights and Democracy report, meaning that the FCO believe it is facing serious human rights challenges but that this falls short of being a 'country of concern'. I know that the Government has been pressed on this classification in Parliament and by human rights groups and I believe it is important that the Government keep this under review and carefully assess the human rights situation in Bahrain.

Britain's voice in the world is a reflection of the moral leadership that we demonstrate on human rights, and I hope the UK Government will continue to discuss human rights and reform with the Government of Bahrain, as well as any specific concerns over convictions or sentencing.

I can assure you that I will continue to follow developments in Bahrain closely and I hope that Bahrain can show renewed commitment to addressing these concerns.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views