Answer to Hugues Bayet’s Oral Questions on the situation of Human Rights in Bahrain, published on 02 February 2020
Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Philippe Goffin : Our country closely monitors the human rights situation in Bahrain through the Belgian Embassy in Kuwait and the FPS Foreign Affairs in Brussels. As for all other countries, human rights are an integral part of our bilateral discussions with the Bahraini authorities at all levels. This was also the case during the bilateral consultations between our country and Bahrain that recently took place in November 2019. At the UN level, Belgium made recommendations during the most recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle of Bahrain under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), such as the full implementation of the recommendations initiated in the report of the Independent Inquiry Commission of Bahrain (the Bassiouni report) concerning the death penalty. Belgium opposes death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances. Belgium also mentioned Bahrain at the national level during the Human Rights Council in 2019. An informal dialogue on human rights between the European Union and Bahrain has been taking place since 2016. During the last session in May 2018, concerns were expressed about fair trial guarantees, conditions in detention centers (including the access to adequate medical treatment for detainees) and the general human rights situation in the country. Besides, at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019, the EU reinforced its concern about the human rights situation in Bahrain, including the serious risks posed by the ongoing politicisation of the judiciary, as well as the importance of freedom of expression and association, to both of which Belgium, as an EU Member State, subscribed. The long-term stability of Bahrain is, first and foremost, in the interest of Bahrain itself. This stability can only be sustainable in a climate where legitimate political concerns can be freely expressed.