Bahraini Political Prisoners

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:14 pm on 13th January 2022.

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Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West 2:14 pm, 13th January 2022

The all-party parliamentary group on human rights, which I co-chair, has been concerned about serious and systematic human rights violations in Bahrain for decades. Then and now, the following have been at the heart of the problems in Bahrain. The Executive retain far too much control, their powers remain largely unchecked and the majority Shi’a Muslim population feel discriminated against by the Sunni, who govern. There is no genuine political Opposition, no press freedom and few independent NGOs are able to operate freely in the country.

The Bahraini Government undertook cosmetic reforms to convince the outside world that things have improved, including the establishment of oversight mechanisms, the extension of the alternative sentencing law to all prisoners, and the development of a national action plan for human rights. But the reality is, sadly, all too apparent to those who scratch the surface. The continued arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment of prisoners of conscience—that is, those in prison solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and/or association—serve to illustrate the true situation in Bahrain.