Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (30, 33)

Seán Haughey

Question:

30. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain including the detention of political prisoners; if this situation has been discussed at EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6007/20]

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Roderic O'Gorman

Question:

33. Deputy Roderic O'Gorman asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland will consider introducing a joint statement on Bahrain at the Human Rights Council in Geneva regarding that country’s treatment of political prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6325/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 33 together.

The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern. Although progress has been made in certain areas, there continue to be instances of violations of fundamental freedoms, including the targeting of human rights defenders.

Ireland participates actively in the UN Human Rights Council, and regularly raises the case of human rights in Bahrain at that forum, both in national statements and in our support of EU Statements, which I believe is the right way to highlight this issue.

Discussions are still ongoing on how the next session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held, in view of the current situation. No decision has yet been taken on national or EU interventions at that session. In our planning for the next session, we will consider carefully which priorities to set, with a view to focusing the weight of Ireland's efforts, and the Council's attention, on the most grave and troubling situations globally.

While the issue of Bahrain has not been raised at the EU Foreign Affairs Council recently, the EU and Bahrain hold regular discussions on human rights issues. At the most recent informal EU-Bahrain Human Rights dialogue in November 2019, issues discussed included the right to a fair trial, prison conditions (including the need to ensure adequate medical treatment for prisoners), and the overall human rights situation in the country. The EU continues to follow up directly with the Bahraini authorities; for example, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, recently wrote to the Bahraini Minister for Foreign Affairs specifically highlighting the ongoing detention of Human Rights defenders and the conditions of their detention.

We also raise our concerns about the human rights situation, and the treatment of detainees in particular, in our bilateral discussions with Bahrain. When I met with the former Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019, I made a point of raising the human rights situation directly with him, expressing the hope that we can have an open and honest discussion on these issues. Officials from my Department met with a delegation from Bahrain in November 2019 and had an in-depth discussion on prison conditions and the justice system in Bahrain. Among the issues raised were Ireland’s concerns about the imprisonment of certain individuals, apparently on the basis of opinions they had expressed; and the provision of healthcare for prisoners in Bahrain. The Bahraini officials outlined specific plans to improve prisoners’ access to healthcare, and my officials continue to follow up on this matter.

Ireland will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to call on the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights. We shall do so both directly with Bahraini officials, as well as at EU and international level, whenever opportunities arise.