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House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what communications they have had with the Government of Bahrain since the beginning of public protests there; what communications they intend to have with that Government in the near future; whether they are emphasising the importance of due process for all persons arrested; and whether they have received information about allegations of disappearances and the outcomes of relevant cases.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

The Government have had regular communications with the Government of Bahrain since the beginning of public protests, and these communications are ongoing.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke by phone to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 15 March 2011 and met the Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in London on 19 May 2011. On both occasions the Prime Minister expressed our concerns about the situation in Bahrain and stressed the importance of the Bahrain Government moving to a policy of reform rather than repression.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), spoke to the Bahraini Foreign Minister on 17 February, 16 April and 25 May and raised the UK's concern about the human rights situation. He made clear our concerns about arrests, deaths in detention and moves to investigate prominent licensed, political opposition parties. He made clear that the civil rights of peaceful opposition figures, the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly should be respected.

The Secretary of State for Defence, my right honourable friend Dr Fox, spoke to the Crown Prince on 22 February 2011 and met the King and Crown Prince in Bahrain on 3 April 2011 and spoke to the King again on 16 May 2011, urging the Bahrain Government to create the environment in which dialogue can take place.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my right honourable friend Alistair Burt, spoke to the Bahraini ambassador by phone on 1 April 2011 and raised our concerns about human rights. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever, met the Crown Prince in Bahrain on 23 February 2011 and urged all sides, including opposition groupings, to engage in dialogue.

Our ambassador has also regularly raised the UK's human rights concerns with Ministers across the Bahraini Government, including most recently with the Ministers of Justice, Interior and the Deputy Prime Minister. These include highlighting our concerns that due process should be followed and that those accused should have access to legal counsel and be tried before independent and impartial courts. The Defence Senior Adviser Middle East, Lieutenant General Simon Mayall, raised human rights with the Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force on 11 May 2011.

We will continue to make our concerns clear to the Bahraini authorities.

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