I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 32 together.
I am aware of reports that prisoners in Bahrain have been denied adequate healthcare in prison. Ireland attaches great importance to safeguarding the human rights of all prisoners, with due regard for the international standards enshrined in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
As I have stated in this House previously, I remain very concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain. Although Bahrain has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution, there are ongoing instances of violations of fundamental freedoms there, including violations of freedom of opinion and expression.
As the Deputy notes, the shrinking of civil and political space is particularly worrying in light of parliamentary elections which will take place in November this year. Good governance and accountability are vital for the realisation of human rights, and Ireland is committed to encouraging full participation in democratic processes. I am aware of reports that many opposition groups have been dissolved and that their members have been barred from running for election. These developments suggest an increasingly restrictive approach, targeting those who express views which oppose or challenge the Government in any way, including through parliamentary election processes.
Ireland regularly conveys its concerns about human rights to the Bahraini authorities, including through the Bahraini Embassy in London and through Ireland’s (non-resident) Ambassador to Bahrain. In February of this year, officials from my Department met with the Ambassador of Bahrain in Dublin, and raised Ireland’s concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain.
Ireland also regularly raises the case of human rights in Bahrain at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, in the form of national statements and its support to EU Statements. In Ireland’s most recent Item 4 Statement (human rights situations that require the Council’s attention) at the HRC session in September 2018, we expressed our concerns about “the ongoing restrictions on civil society space and the treatment of human rights defenders in Bahrain”. We also called on Bahrain “to respect freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to a fair trial.” At the previous HRC session in June 2018, Ireland also raised concerns under Item 4, and the EU in its Item 2 Statement (on the reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) also highlighted the deterioration of the human rights situation, with particular reference to the shrinking of political space in Bahrain.
My Department will continue to monitor the situation in Bahrain, and will continue to call on the Bahraini Government to make good on their stated commitment to make progress in the area of human rights.