Transparency International Says Bahrain is Example of “Corrupt and Repressive Regimes” Supported by Parliamentarians and House of Lords in UK
2018-07-30 - 7:48 p
Bahrain Mirror: A report issued by Transparency International UK said that Bahrain is one of many corrupt and repressive regimes that has been supported by parliamentarians and House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
In a report issued on Saturday (July 28, 2018), entitled "‘In Whose Interest?'", the organization recounted how corrupt and repressive regimes seek influence and legitimacy through engagement with UK Parliamentarians. The report studied 3 cases of these regimes; Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain.
The organization said that working for corrupt and repressive regimes "ultimately undermines the reputation of Westminster as a beacon of democracy and the rule of law, and risks bringing into question the integrity of parliamentarians."
Based on the background of the issued report, the British Telegraph newspaper revealed that a prominent peer acted as a paid adviser to the King of Bahrain at a time when the country was repressing protesters during the Arab Spring in 2011.
The newspaper added that Lord Inge, a former chief of the defence staff, advised King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for 14 years. The Lord, who retired from the Lords in 2016, declared his work for the King of Bahrain in the official register of interests, in line with parliamentary rules, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing.
The report issued highlighted the "scale and nature of UK parliamentarians' engagement" and indicated that the most public engagement of UK parliamentarians by the regime in Bahrain is through the Manama Dialogue - an annual conference held in the country's capital that aims to provide "a platform for participating states to exchange views on regional challenges"
"Although the event is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), files uncovered by Bahrain Watch - a watchdog for corruption and human rights abuses in the country - found that the Government of Bahrain was paying for the event, and that a third of IISS' income derived from the [Bahraini] regime," Transparency indicated.
The report also stated that another prominent UK Parliamentary "listed the Kingdom as a client for a geo-strategic advisory firm of which he is a director; he also holds a position with the IISS."
"Based on data published by the UK Electoral Commission and parliament's registers of members' interests, we have identified 19 different parliamentarians who have had all expenses paid trips to the Manama Dialogue since 2007," the report further stated.
It added that "The total cost of these trips is estimated to be just over £100,000, 94 per cent of which was paid for either directly or indirectly by the Government of Bahrain"
The organization also identified three parliamentarians who have visited the King of Bahrain over three different occasions between 2012 and 2018. It is not clear from publicly available information whether these visits were reportable under the House of Lords' rules.
The UK's close relationship with Bahrain dates back to the nineteenth century. The UK exported £295.5 million in goods and services to the country in 2014 and it presents the largest export market for British businesses in the Gulf.
The 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) saw Bahrain's scores continue to drop in the wake of the country's crackdown on protestors in 2011. Over the last decade, growing criticism has been levelled at the expropriation of public assets by the Royal Family and members of the government, which has been made possible by the Kingdom's highly opaque public finances.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have catalogued continuing and widespread human rights violations in recent years, covering freedom of expression, assembly and association. This includes the imprisonment of human rights activities on trumped-up charges, closing down the country's only independent newspaper and banning members of the dissolved opposition parties from voting at future elections, Transparency International indicated.