15 November 2019 – On 12 November, Irish politician Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, what steps he is taking to secure the release of political prisoners in Bahrain. Broughan also inquired if Foreign Minister Coveney has met with Bahraini officials in regard to the issue, and if he plans to report on the meetings and his views on the reported refusal of adequate medical care to high profile prisoners in Bahrain. This question was a result of ADHRB’s advocacy efforts abroad.

Foreign Minister Coveney responded with the following:

“The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern. Although Bahrain has stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution. Progress has been made in certain areas, but there continue to be instances of violations of fundamental freedoms there including the targeting of human rights defenders.

Officials from my Department also regularly meet with advocacy groups and Bahraini human rights defenders, and they have been made aware of reports that medical care has been denied to political prisoners in Bahrain. Ireland urges all States to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees, including the right to healthcare, as set out in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela rules.

My Department and I have raised these issues with Bahrain. When I met the Bahraini Foreign Minister in New York in September I made a point of raising the human rights situation directly with him, with a view to having open and honest discussion on these issues.

Officials from my Department last week met with a delegation from Bahrain 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. My officials will continue to follow up on this matter.

The EU and Bahrain hold regular discussions on human rights issues. At the most recent informal EU-Bahrain Human Rights dialogue on 7 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. Ireland has also highlighted human rights issues in Bahrain at the UN Human Rights Council, in the form of national statements and its support to EU Statements.

My Department will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to urge the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights.”