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Foriegn Affairs Committee echoes REDRESS concerns over Bahrain

In a report released today, an important parliamentary committee has again called on the UK Government to designate Bahrain as a “country of concern” in its human rights policies, reflecting REDRESS’ ongoing concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain.

Earlier this year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released its annual report on human rights and democracy, which draws attention to incidents of torture and oppression, monitors use of the death penalty and aims to expose the illegal arms trade around the world.

The Foreign Office report included an expanded list of 28 states with which it has the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns, but once again did not designate Bahrain as a country of concern; instead, it included a case-study on Bahrain and claimed that there were “improvements” in the country’s human rights performances.

In May 2012, REDRESS, a human rights organisation that seeks justice and reparation for torture survivors, submitted written comments on the FCO report to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC). REDRESS criticised the omission of Bahrain, given the close links between Bahrain and the UK.

It also pointed out evidence of continued use of torture and mistreatment, and stated that from a recent visit to Bahrain it was clear that torture survivors and prominent lawyers have little faith in the regime’s announced reforms. In its own report released today, the FAC agreed that Bahrain should have been designated as a country of concern in the FCO’s report.

“[The Committee] recommends that the FCO revise its criteria for designating ‘countries of concern’. Decisions (…) should be based purely upon assessment of human rights standards and should stand up to objective comparison. External factors, such as strategic considerations or the UK’s ability to influence developments, should not be allowed to colour those decisions (…),” the FAC said.

REDRESS welcomes the recommendation on Bahrain, given the prominent prisoners of conscience who remain imprisoned there, the other individuals who have been tortured and convicted in unfair military trials (cases that REDRESS has brought to the attention of UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights), and the very small number of low-ranking police officers who have been charged with offences that do not appear to reflect the gravity of the crimes alleged.

The FAC noted too that REDRESS had argued that Nepal should have been included as a country of concern, both because of continuing violations of human rights and because of “consistent impunity for violations committed during the country’s 10-year conflict.”

REDRESS had also raised concerns about violations in the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, as well as developments in Libya, Syria and Rwanda. REDRESS’ full written comments to the FAC can be found on www.redress.org.

Further information from:

Eva Sanchis

([email protected]) at +44 (0)20 7793 1777.

Note:

REDRESS takes legal challenges on behalf of survivors, works to ensure that torturers are punished and
that survivors and their families obtain remedies for their suffering. REDRESS has intervened in a range of
leading torture cases in the UK and abroad.