Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane Labour, Rotherham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the UK has not signed the joint statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain submitted at the 20th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 27 June 2012 in Geneva.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The UK did not sign up to the joint statement as we did not consider it appropriate at this stage to raise Bahrain under agenda item 4. A number of other countries, including the US and other EU member states, agreed with our assessment and also did not sign the statement.

We agree with much of the substance of the Swiss-led statement and our overall objective remains to support improvements in Bahrain's human rights records. However, we do not believe that the situation in Bahrain is comparable with the situation in the other countries raised under this item such as Syria.

Progress has been made in a number of areas relating to human rights. The Bahrain Government has established a Special Investigations Unit to investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment, amended the penal code to ensure greater accountability for officials connected with torture charges, and introduced a police code of conduct imposing strict rules on the use of force.

But clearly much more needs to be done and the UK, as a long standing ally, is supporting Bahrain on their path of reform.

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