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Oireachtas committee meets over human rights abuse in Bahrain

Foreign affairs committee to hear of Irish-trained medics jailed over protests in Bahrain, as well as efforts to support human rights defenders.

A man emerges from a tear gas cloud during recent clashes between police and protesters in Jidhafs, Bahrain.
A man emerges from a tear gas cloud during recent clashes between police and protesters in Jidhafs, Bahrain.
Image: AP Photo/Hasan Jamali/PA Images

THE DIRECTOR of the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders is to address an Oireachtas committee today on the ongoing unrest in Bahrain.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the pro-reform uprisings.

The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade chairman Pat Breen said that Front Line director Mary Lawlor would inform the committee of the group’s priorities and the challenges it faces.

The organisation works to protect the defenders of human rights, and has been highlighting the detention and abuse of medical staff and democracy activists in Bahrain.

A number of Irish-trained medics are among those who have been jailed in Bahrain on charges of inciting hatred against Bahrain’s rulers and of stockpiling weapons at medical facilities.

The registrar of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Prof Cathal Kelly will also address the committee tomorrow and is expected to discuss the situation regarding the Irish-trained medics.

Mary Lawlor is expected to give the Oireachtas committee an overview of the group’s operations and to recommend that the OSCE – of which Ireland is currently the chair – should appoint a special representative on human rights defenders.

She is also expected to call on the Irish government to prioritise Abdulhadi Al Khawaja’s case in Bahrain.

Having previously worked with Front Line and Amnesty, Al Khawaja is one of the dozens of activists arrested during the pro-democracy protests last year. He is currently serving a life sentence for organising a terrorist organisation and liaising with a terrorist group working for a foreign country.

Front Line has criticised his trial as being “grossly unfair” and has raised concerns about the conditions of his detention.

The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade meeting is due to begin at 2.30pm in Committee Room 1.

The story behind the giant banner on St Stephen’s Green >

Read: Continued clashes in Bahrain on anniversary of revolution >

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