(EP DROI human rights mission 19-21 December 2012)
A call for immediate release of political prisoners in Bahrain has been issued by Richard Howitt, S&D Euro MP and co-ordinator on human rights and Ana Gomes, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs, at the end of a three day human rights mission, in which they took part in the Middle East country, at the heart of the Arab Spring.
The S&D MEPs successfully pressed to visit prisoners of conscience Abdullah al Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab and Ibrahim Sharif, in the country’s notorious Jau prison, where they heard claims that 800 political prisoners were detained.
In meetings with Government, opposition and human rights groups, Ana Gomes and Richard Howitt said it was essential to bring accountability for all responsible for violent repression against the February 2011 uprising in Bahrain.
Richard Howitt, S&D Euro MP and co-ordinator on human rights said:
"We heard evidence that the momentum for reform created by Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry is grinding to a halt and believe a timetable for full implementation of recommendations-including ending censorship and guaranteeing fair trials– is necessary.
"Although the country’s Government say they want national dialogue, major steps are needed to bring confidence that it will be meaningful, including release of political prisoners and a willingness for the Government to meet directly with radical opposition elements”.
Ana Gomes, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs added:
"Having heard heart-rending testimonies from torture victims, there can be no reconciliation without the perpetrators, at all levels, being brought to justice”.
“It is also clear that the revocation of nationalities of political opponents by the Bahrain authorities is contrary to international law."