Lord Howell of Guildford (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Conservative)
On 10 July the Foreign and Commonwealth Office published new reporting on our assessment of the human rights situation from April to June in Bahrain, which was considered a cause for concern in the 2011 Annual Human Rights Report. This is part of a new quarterly update review system to inform Parliament, non-governmental organisations and the general public about our latest assessment. This more flexible quarterly reporting will strengthen the assessments we make about which countries should be added to or removed from the list of countries of concern in the 2012 annual report.
We believe a number of improvements have been made, but we remain concerned by the lack of progress in certain areas and ongoing allegations of human rights abuses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend Mr Burt visited Bahrain on 11 June and met a number of senior Bahrain Government officials, and representatives from Bahrain's political parties and opposition groups; Mr Burt also held roundtable discussions with members of civil society. In all the meetings, we emphasised the importance of, and need for, full and timely implementation across the whole range of reforms. The King promised full implementation of recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry; we will monitor this commitment.
In addition, the Bahraini Ministers for Justice and the Interior have recently visited the UK to discuss our human rights concerns and areas where the UK might be of assistance. We will continue to raise our concerns on human rights with the Bahraini authorities for as long as it is necessary.
We are also clear that violence on the streets is unacceptable. Legitimate and peaceful demonstrations are an integral part of any democratic society, but political street violence is not and it hinders efforts towards reconciliation.