On Thursday 2 June, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Tobias Ellwood, visited Bahrain for the seventh meeting of the UK-Bahrain Joint Working Group.
Tobias Ellwood and His Excellency Abdulla Abdullatif Abdulla, Under Secretary of the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with officials from Bahrain and the UK, discussed a wide range of issues including co-operation on key trade and investment opportunities, recent political and security developments within the Middle East, and co-operation and assistance on defence, security and counter-terrorism.
The Joint Working Group discussed progress on the Kingdom of Bahrain’s reform programme and the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Positive steps have been taken to further build oversight mechanisms across the criminal justice system, although there is still significant work to be done. The UK remains committed to providing support and practical assistance to Bahrain’s reform programme, this will include continuing to build the capacity of the Ombudsman’s Office and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission, working with the Special Investigation Unit and the Public Prosecution Department to establish Victims and Witness Support Units, assisting the Government of Bahrain to move towards an independent Prison Service, engagement with the judiciary, support to the reform of juvenile justice, technical assistance to court administration and civil service capacity building.
Speaking at the end of the Joint Working Group, Tobias Ellwood said:
This year marks 200 years of the bilateral relationship between the UK and Bahrain and our two countries continue to enjoy the warmth of a long-standing friendship. During a productive meeting of the Joint Working Group, we agreed that the UK would continue to provide support to Bahrain’s ambitious reform programme, with a particular focus on strengthening human rights and the rule of law, where there is still significant work to be done. I am pleased to see that UK expertise is continuing to help to make a real difference.