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Human rights violations

Parliamentary pressures in Belgium and Ireland to follow up on the human rights file in Bahrain

A member of the Belgian House of Representatives questioned the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Villemis, about the measures taken by her ministry regarding the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in Bahrain’s prisons and whether she was aware of the tragic death of a Bahraini political prisoner Hussein Barakat.

The deputy in the Belgian Parliament from the Belgian Socialist Party and a former member of the European Parliament asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of his country whether there were any measures taken by the international community regarding human rights violations in Bahrain.

“I have had the opportunity several times to question you (the Secretary of State) and your predecessor about the human rights problem in Bahrain, and in this regard, I would like to draw your attention today to a tragic event, the death of Hussain Barakat, who passed away on June 9, 2021, due to complications he was infected with the Coronavirus.”

“Hussain Barakat was a Bahraini political prisoner who was sentenced to life imprisonment in a mass trial in 2018, and since then, he has been held in Jaw Prison, where he was infected with the Coronavirus,” Payet added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has not yet responded to the deputy’s questions.

The Belgian MP said that Jaw Central Prison is notorious for overcrowding prisoners and poor health conditions, which are factors that may have led to Barakat’s infection with the Coronavirus.

Payet said that the general medical negligence practised by the Bahraini authorities endangers the lives of prisoners and that the situation in Jaw Prison continues to deteriorate, as political prisoners are deprived of contact with their families. The pandemic continues to spread among prison inmates.

He pointed out that several United Nations bodies described the political arrests in Bahrain as arbitrary.

In the same context, two members of the Irish Parliament questioned their country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, about Ireland’s efforts to hold the Bahraini government accountable for its continued violations of human rights in the region.

The Irish MP, Paul Murphy, asked the Foreign Minister whether he was aware of political prisoner Hussein Barakat’s death and whether he would raise this issue with his colleagues in the European Union and the United Nations.

In response to the deputy’s question, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney referred to the disturbing reports regarding the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in Jaw prison in Bahrain.

“Ireland urges all states to protect the human rights of prisoners and detainees, including the provision of health care services to them, as set out in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules,” he said.

In response to another question about the EU’s recently enacted Magnitsky sanctions, the Minister replied that Ireland strongly supports the EU’s new global sanctions regime for human rights violations.

This came to light in December 2020. The mechanism provided by law provides the European Union with a concrete tool to target those responsible for grave human rights violations wherever they are.

On June 9, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior announced that a political prisoner serving a life sentence had died of infection with the emerging Coronavirus. Human rights organizations called for the immediate release of political prisoners in the Kingdom to fear the pandemic.

The Bahraini authorities stated that Hussain Barakat, 48, who received a full vaccination against the virus last March, died after contracting the virus. He added that he had been transferred from prison to hospital on May 29 and that his condition necessitated “putting him on a respirator.” And raising the efficiency of the device to the highest level, and his health condition remained unstable until he died.”

The Ministry of Interior claimed that Barakat “was receiving integrated health care, and regularly received his medication… in addition to receiving video and telephone communication.”

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