Bahrain — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:57 am on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 9:57 am, 11th September 2018

I do not know the full detail of that, so I will not comment on the hon. Lady’s point.

The UK’s inspectorate of prisons is helping, working with the judiciary. Since 2011, the International Committee of the Red Cross has had access to the country’s prisons, which is very important. Video and audio recordings now routinely occur when prisoners are interviewed. Inspections of prison conditions are now normal and the recommendations of such reports are implemented to the best of their ability—I believe that is the case. I consider such changes a major step forward. I do not personally agree with capital punishment, but I do not live in Bahrain. Over the last 50 years, there have been only five cases where it has been imposed, for what the state considers to be heinous crimes, such as the murder of a policeman. I remind colleagues that the United States, our closest ally, also still has the death penalty.

Bahrain is actively seeking expert advice on human rights from the likes of the British Government. I think it is determined to show the world that such things matter to Bahrainis as much as they do anywhere else. The country is truly a friend and ally. It is continually threatened by Iran, which is just across the Gulf and has scant regard for human rights. Bahrain is right in the front line of subversion and terrorism. I accept that human rights are not yet perfect in Bahrain, but they are a good deal better than many other places and there can be no doubt that the Bahrain Government cares about the issue and is taking active steps to be as good as possible.

I end by saying that many in Bahrain will be watching this debate. They are truly staunch friends of the UK, and will be pretty jarred off if we condemn them on human rights matters when they are so much better on such things than so many other countries.