House of Lords Members Question Continued Funding to Bahrain Oversight Bodies

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13 February 2020- Yesterday, Lord Paul Scriven and Peers criticised the inefficacy and lack of transparency surrounding the UK government’s technical assistance program to Bahrain in oral questions to FCO Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon. 

Referring to a leaked official dossier of the Bahrain Special Investigations Unit’s (SIU) investigation into allegations of torture by Mohamed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa, Lord Scriven criticised the investigation for being “contradictory, inconsistent, and [for contravening] international standards.” Lord Scriven also said that his inspection of the dossier has led him to conclude that “the SIU – which the noble Lord maintains is transparent – is quite the opposite, and implicated in human rights abuses.” 

Failing to address the criticisms leveled by Lord Scriven against violations of due process and the mediocrity of the investigation carried out by the SIU, Lord Ahmad merely reiterated that it was the UK’s investment in technical assistance to those bodies that led to the case being reconsidered. 

Lord Scriven further requested a meeting with Lord Ahmad and representatives of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), members of which attended the session, to discuss the SIU dossier and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Integrated Activity Fund (IAF) – which funds Bahrain’s technical assistance programmes.

Criticising Lord Ahmad’s comments on the merits of “positive engagement” with Bahrain, Labor Peer Lord Collins of Highbury cited the opinion of 8 UN experts on the UK-funded Alternative Non-Custodial Sentencing Programme’s discrimination against human rights defenders in Bahrain. Avoiding mention of human rights defenders, the former stressed the positive results of the programme, and affirmed that, it is the UK’s “continual engagement with the Bahraini authorities which is producing results.”

Following Baroness Northover’s reference to a UN report calling on Bahrain to halt the executions of Ramadhan and Moosa and her question on whether Lord Ahmad agreed with the report’s designation of the executions as arbitrary killings for violating due process, he superficially responded with the standard statement on the UK’s disapproval of the death penalty and that the government consistently raises the issue with its Bahraini counterparts.

Responding to a suggestion by Baroness Nicholson on the possibility of providing training to Bahraini judges, Lord Ahmad affirmed that judicial training and support programmes were underway, and that Bahraini judges have received training at UK Crown Courts and magistrates’ courts.

Watch the debate in full here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xG0v5v1HOc

Read the full transcript here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-02-12/debates/508444BF-B2A9-495F-B0DE-379C2ED430CC/BahrainMohamedRamadanAndHussainMoosa

Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they urgently raise the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace

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