Irish Minister Simon Coveney Addresses Question on Prisoners of Conscience in Bahrain

28 October 2019 – On 22 October, Deputy Jim O’Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, the steps being taken by Ireland in respect of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, and asked if the Minister would make a statement on the matter. This question was a result of ADHRB’s international advocacy efforts.

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs responded saying, “the human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern. 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 well as the targeting of human rights defenders.” He noted how Ireland attaches a high priority to safeguarding human rights defenders, and continually advocates for freedom for civil society actors to operate in a safe and enabling environment, without repression.

“I am aware of reports of inhumane detention conditions as well as allegations that political prisoners in Bahrain have been tortured. Ireland urges all States to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees and is committed to the prevention and eradication of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Foreign Minister Coveney. “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.” He highlighted Ireland’s active participation at the UN Human Rights Council, including national statements, joint statements, and resolutions.

“Our principled stance on human rights also feeds into our bilateral dialogue and we raise our human rights concerns directly with the Bahraini authorities at every opportunity. When I met the Bahraini Foreign Minister in New York last month 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. In addition, officials from my Department meet regularly with advocacy groups and Bahraini human rights defenders to discuss the situation in Bahrain,” he said.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney stressed that the department 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, both directly with Bahraini officials, as well as at EU and international level, whenever opportunities arise.