Three men executed today in Bahrain – the first in 2017
Three men were executed today, 15 January 2017, in Bahrain. This has taken place in a country which likes to claim its commitment to human rights. The convictions were allegedly procured using torture which – according to local human rights groups – included suspension from the ceiling, beatings, electric shock to the genitals and elsewhere, food and sleep deprivation. Violent demonstration are said to have broken out.
The human rights situation in Bahrain is described as ‘dismal’ and in addition to the use of torture, there has been an orchestrated crack-down on the right to free speech and human rights activists and opposition politicians face arrest and repression.
Britain is closely involved in the Kingdom and Theresa May visited the country recently as part of a bid to boost trade. This has raised the issue of our relationship with a country with such poor human rights. She was quoted as saying:
There will be some people in the UK who say we shouldn’t seek stronger trade and security ties with these countries because of their record on human rights. But we don’t uphold our values and human rights by turning our back on this issue. We achieve far more by stepping up, engaging with these countries and working with them
It doesn’t seem to be going so well. There is indeed something to be said for engagement if it does over time secure better standards. It was reported today that Yarls Wood detention centre received a visit by Bahraini officials from the very prisons where torture is alleged to take place. The funding was from the secretive Conflict Stability and Security Fund which a select committee of MPs has been unable to find out much about. But once again it looks like fine words when in reality there is no improvement and all that seems matter is securing business. The UK has just opened a naval base in the state so our ability to apply pressure is further limited.
A Salisbury based firm has allegedly been supplying spyware equipment to enable the Bahraini security forces to penetrate mobile phones and computers.
Mail Group Newspapers; Guardian; Observer; Amnesty International; Reprieve; Bahrain Center for Human Rights