Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (49)

Brendan Smith


49. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is satisfied that academic and medical freedom exists in Bahrain; the communications he has had with his counterpart in the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35650/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The overall human rights environment in Bahrain continues to be of serious concern. I have repeatedly called on the Bahraini Government to demonstrate its commitment to upholding human rights and to implement in full the recommendations of the Bahraini International Commission of Inquiry. The Commission has made specific recommendations which set out the way forward for Bahrain in terms of commitments in the areas of political dialogue, rule of law, human rights, and refraining from excessive violence. Full implementation of the recommendations in relation to human rights will contribute greatly to ensuring that medical and academic professionals can operate in an environment free of restriction, harassment or the threat of censure. I have ensured that Ireland’s concerns on human rights issues in Bahrain have been conveyed regularly to the Bahraini authorities and I will continue to do so.

In June, the Secretary General of my Department had the opportunity for a brief meeting with the Bahrain Minister for Foreign Affairs while heading the Irish delegation attending the annual EU-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) ministerial meeting in Manama. The Secretary General also met with senior officials in the Bahraini Ministry of Human Rights, during which he pointed to the damage caused to the image of Bahrain by recent troubles and made clear that the release of certain prisoners, including the Irish-trained medical professionals, would have a positive impact on international opinion. Drawing on Ireland’s experience, the Secretary General urged the need for dialogue and reconciliation as well as full respect for human rights in efforts to address current political tensions within Bahrain. Officials in my Department also make clear our concerns to the Bahraini Ambassador in London as required; and Ireland’s Ambassador in Riyadh, who is accredited to Bahrain, has raised human rights issues directly with the authorities there on every appropriate occasion, including most recently with the Foreign Minister while the Ambassador was in Bahrain over the St. Patrick’s Day period.