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UK MPs Call for Suspension of "Secretive" Gulf Funding Initiatives including Bahrain

2021-07-08 - 2:44 am

Bahrain Mirror: British MPs have called on their government to suspend ‘secret' million-pound funding programs for the oil-rich Gulf, which they say could put the UK at risk of complicity in human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The parliamentary group of all parties on democracy and human rights in the Gulf said in a report that programs supported by the Integrated Activity Fund (IAF) were implemented with ‘absolute minimum levels of accountability, transparency and due diligence despite the fact that it is repeatedly implied. in human rights violations ".

The report added that the IAF-backed institutions in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain "have whitened human rights violations, endangering the UK government to engage in abuse itself".

"Government funding to GCC states by the Gulf Strategy Fund [GSF] should be suspended immediately pending an independent inquiry into its implications for human rights violations and international law," the group said.

The report, which is due to be published on Tuesday, said the IAF spent £ 53 million between 2016/17 and 2019/20.

The report accused the government of being ‘misleading' and ‘fraudulent' about the IAF, saying it claimed that it is a fund for health, sport and culture and was not used for security matters in Bahrain.

The Foreign Ministry said that all co - operation by the GSF "is subject to strict risk assessments to ensure that all work complies with our human rights obligations and our values".

"We do not shy away from addressing legitimate human rights issues, and we encourage other states to respect international law," it said.

The party report, however, adds the IAF and GSF fund programmers to "bodies in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that continue to be implicated in serious human rights and international law violations".

The IAF, which was later replaced by the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF), was launched in 2016 and was established to provide funding for investment in programs in the Gulf region.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which saw pro-democracy demonstrators take to the streets of the Gulf nation, Bahrain has launched a comprehensive crackdown on opposition groups and human rights activists.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been deemed as one of the world's worst human rights abusers, according to the Human Rights Measurement Initiative.

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