UK ‘disingenuous’ about human rights abuses in Bahrain: Amnesty

Press TV- Amnesty International has denounced the British government for being insincere and dishonest about human rights violations in Bahrain, where a Saudi-backed regime has been clamping down on dissent since 2011.  

The prominent rights group released a damning report, based on 90 interviews with Bahraini human rights activists, on Monday ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the Persian Gulf kingdom in December.

The report assessed the work of the Bahraini oversight bodies  — the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) within the Public Prosecution Office — which were set up with the help of the UK to deal with human rights abuses following the 2011 uprising.

Bahraini and British authorities have cited the work of these two oversight bodies as evidence of progress in upholding human rights in the tiny kingdom.

But the Amnesty report said it is “utterly disingenuous” of the British government to pretend it is affecting significant human rights reforms in Bahrain.

Amnesty said that the UK-funded institutions have failed to prevent torture and imprisonment of activists or protect their rights, despite the Al Khalifah regime’s claims of introducing reforms to address human rights abuses in the country.

“There is no denying that the Bahraini government has taken a step in the right direction by setting up institutions to investigate human rights violations and hold those suspected to be responsible accountable,” said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office.

“Sadly these reforms remain woefully inadequate. Torture and other ill-treatment by security forces persist within a system of entrenched impunity marked by the lack of an independent judiciary,” she added.

The Amnesty report said British ministers have acted as cheerleaders for Manama’s deplorable rights reforms, and asked them to confront the reality that the oversight institutions “are seriously flawed and widely seen as a PR exercise.”

Amnesty’s statement comes as the Al Khalifah regime has issued a travel ban for 38 Bahraini citizens. All those barred from leaving the country are either journalists or political and rights activists.

The Manama regime has been cracking down on Bahraini people since February 2011, when anti-regime protests erupted across the country.

People have been demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested in the regime crackdown.

The United Kingdom has close ties with Bahrain and its authoritarian rulers. On November 10, Britain officially opened a massive naval base in the Arab country.

Britain’s Prince Charles inaugurated the Naval Support Facility (NSF) in Manama, marking the 200th anniversary of mutual relations with the Arab kingdom.