Speaking in the European Parliament yesterday (Thursday), Alyn Smith MEP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, raised the case of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders imprisoned in the Arab Gulf state of Bahrain.
The Scottish MEP, who was in charge of his group's resolution on Bahrain and negotiated a joint text between the European Parliament's political groups, called on the members to speak with one voice against human rights violations in Bahrain.
Despite attempts by some conservative MEPs to reject the motion, the European Parliament adopted the urgency resolution on human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Bahrain, calling on Bahraini authorities to release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab as well as all other prisoners of conscience. An overwhelming majority of 65 members voted in favour or the resolution with only 2 members voting against it.
“Bahrain is a clear ally of the European Union and an important partner in the region and it could be a good news story for human rights within the Middle East. There has been progress, there is ongoing dialogue and it’s important we recognise that there are allies for progress and that there are allies for human rights and reforms in the Bahraini authorities.
“Indeed, I suspect, left to their own devices, they would come up with considerably better solutions than we see from continuing outside interference notably from Saudi Arabia and Iran within their internal affairs. But while we recognise the progress being made within Bahrain, it is also important that we recognise failures and shortcomings.
“Nabeel Rajab’s case is emblematic of many more cases of repression and abuse of human rights and we call upon all charges to be dropped.
“I also regret that the defence and strategic security interests of the United Kingdom in Bahrain have undermined the UK Government's potential for addressing human rights abuses.
“The UK Government cannot maintain 'business as usual' with Bahrain given the ongoing human rights violations, and the imprisonment of peaceful political activists, leaders and protesters. The UK Government should publicly condemn the treatment of Nabeel Rajab and review its package of technical assistance focused on strengthening human rights and the rule of law in Bahrain.
You can view Alyn's speech to parliament in full either below, or on his YouTube Channel