Europe praises Bahrain dialogue push
Manama, March 9, 2013
Europe has praised the crucial multilateral talks being held in Bahrain and said they saw new hope in the ongoing National Consensus Dialogue among political societies, legislative authority and the government.
The members of the European Parliament (MEPs) lauded Bahrain for initiating the National Dialogue, describing it as a "step in the right direction," reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The MEPs from the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Committee on Foreign Affairs stated this during a special session on Bahrain.
It focused on the possibilities of an inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.
During the meeting held in Brussels on Thursday, the MEPs said the ongoing National Dialogue in Bahrain among political societies, legislative authority and the government is "seen as hopeful".
However, they said to be truly democratic, the dialogue must also include civil society and the political opposition.
"We see the recent political dialogue between communities in Bahrain as a step in the right direction," said MEP and European People's Party member Jose Ignacio Salafranca.
"However, it should involve a wider section of society, including the opposition, thereby forming solid foundations for the next elections," he said.
During the debate some MEPs criticised "human rights violations" in Bahrain.
Others argued that Bahrain was "trying to move towards democracy", and allowed more societal freedoms, such as religious freedom, than its neighbours.
Representing Bahrain in the session were MPs Isa Al Kooheji and Dr Somaya Al Jowder.
Dr Al Jowder highlighted recent human rights achievements and warned that pushing too hard "will not be healthy" for Bahrain's stability.
Al Kooheji reassured MEPs that many reports of torture were being investigated and that the situation was improving "step by step".
The Bahraini MPs also said they wished to learn from the EU experience in promoting human rights.
Human Rights Subcommittee chair Barbara Lochbihler said if Bahrain wanted to learn from the EU, the best way is to "address and follow up the human rights violation cases".
"It is not the law that is the problem, but its implementation," she said.
The talks follow a visit by senior members from the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights to Bahrain in December last year.
The delegation was headed by Inese Vaidere and included Laima Andrikiene (European People's Party, Lithuania), Richard Howitt (Socialists and Democrats, the UK) and Nicole Sinclaire (Independent, the UK).
During their two-day visit they met senior government officials, MPs, and members from political societies and non-governmental organisations.
The delegation in its findings called upon all Bahrainis to "renounce violence" and further urged the government to implement "anti-corruption measures at all levels".
The MEPs during their visit also heard testimonies of human rights activists, victims of human rights violations including teachers and doctors, and also met at Jaw Prison opposition activists Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab and Ibrahim Sharif.-TradeArabia News Service