Delivered in Plenary - 27th October 2011
We must congratulate the Bahraini people on their Arab Spring struggle for democratic change. We deeply regret the loss of life to date and the fact that criminal sentences handed down to anti-government protesters have been too severe.
The Bahraini courts have decided to drop several of the lower charges against them, but the more serious accusations still remain. Certain civilians are inappropriately being put on trial in special military courts. So Bahrain does not appear consistently to be upholding civil liberties – specifically the right to appeal and equal access to justice – in a way that meets international standards.
We now look forward to the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry set up by His Majesty King Hamad and hope that it will be a means to prevent any more potential abuses from occurring in the future. The EU must urge the Government of Bahrain not only to show restraint when attempting to control protests but also to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with all of its people – in particular the disenfranchised majority Shia population – and to involve all democratic political parties, including the opposition parties, and recognise the right of the Bahraini people to exercise freedom of expression, association and assembly.