I propose to take Questions Nos. 839, 847, 855, 872, 873 and 876 together.
The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of serious concern. Although Bahrain has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution, Ireland is concerned by ongoing instances of violations of fundamental freedoms, including violations of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the targeting of human rights defenders and the treatment of prisoners.
I note with concern reports regarding an outbreak of Covid-19 in Jau prison in Bahrain. Ireland urges all States to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees, including provision of healthcare services, as set out in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules. I also note recent reports that over 100 prisoners have been released to serve the remainder of their sentences outside of the prison system due to concerns regarding the spread of Covid-19 among prisoners.
Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy and we consistently seek to raise our concerns on human rights issues through the most appropriate and effective channels. Our active participation at the UN Human Rights Council is particularly important in that regard. Ireland has raised the human rights issues in Bahrain at the Human Rights Council in the form of National Statements and through support to EU Statements.
Ireland also engages on the issue of human rights in Bahrain through the EU. At the most recent EU-Bahrain Human Rights Dialogue in February 2021, issues of concern were raised by the EU including rule of law, prison conditions, right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of association, death penalty, torture and the impact of Covid-19 on the human rights situation.
The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, has also made representations to the Bahraini authorities on human rights issues, including the detention of a number of individuals as well as the conditions of their detention.
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.