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Danish MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen questioning the Foreign Minister on HRD Abdulhadi Alkhawaja

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On 11 January Member of the Parliament Lars Aslan Rasmussen used the open session in Folketinget (Danish Parliament) to inquire on the actions planned by the Danish Foreign Minister to secure the release of Danish Bahraini citizen and human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. Alkhajawa has been serving a life sentence in prison since 22 June 2012 by a military court.

See below the trascript of Rasmussen and ForeIGN Minister Anders Samuelsen (translated from Danish by BCHR staff).

English verion

1.4) Question number S 475: Regarding help for the Danish citizen and human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

How does the foreign minister intend to help the Danish citizen and human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is a political prisoner in the dictator state Bahrain?

Anders Samuelsen, Foreign Minister:

As the person who is asking the question will know, this is an individual case and is bound by confidentiality. The nature of the case limits what I am able to say in this forum. Let me also remind you that the case has been under ongoing, confidential treatment in the Foreign Policy Committee, which is the proper place to discuss cases like this. Now for my answer. Changing Danish foreign ministers have since 2011 worked actively to find a humanitarian solution, which would involve a release of the Danish-Bahraini citizen, and rehabilitation and treatment for the torture he has been subjected to during his imprisonment. Naturally I intend to continue this policy. The work being done to solve the case is both political and diplomatic, in the shape of contacts in Bahrain and international cooperation. The dialogue with Bahrain is taking place out of the public eye in the interest of finding a solution. Denmark has also raised the issue numerous times at meetings in UN’s Human Rights Council, last time on the 19th of September 2016, where Denmark called for Bahrain to release imprisoned political prisoners including the Danish-Bahraini citizen. Simultaneously, the ministry of foreign affairs provides consular aid through the embassy in Riyadh by visiting the mentioned person regularly in prison, as is done normally when Danish citizens are imprisoned abroad. Finally, the ministry of foreign affairs is in regular contact with the family. We continue the work unrepentantly; however, unfortunately I can’t promise a quick solution.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

Thank you, of course I completely understand and the minister is also new and a lot of stuff is being done. I want to ask whether the foreign minister is aware that there has been and action against this prison in Bahrain a week ago in which 7 political prisoners escaped and that the regime has since tightened its grip further, is the ministry of foreign affairs aware of this situation?

Anders Samuelsen, Foreign Minister:

The embassy in Riyadh is not aware that the circumstances in the prison in general or specifically for the Danish-Bahraini citizen have worsened since the escape.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

So that means I am to take it that you will continue the same policy as previously where, of course there have been some visits, but I think it would be fair to say that not a lot hashappened. I know that all the foreign ministers want al-Khawaja freed, but is it possible that the new foreign minister might go into the case more actively than previously seen?

Anders Samuelsen, Foreign Minister:

I will continue the intense focus on this case as previously.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

And that will exclusively be on the matter of al- Khawaja or can maybe from the Danish government expect a general criticism of the fact that this is one of the countries with most political prisoners in in the world?

Anders Samuelsen, Foreign Minister:

I have nothing further to add. The policy will continue and we will follow up on the case. That is the opinion of the minister.

 

Dansk

1.4) Spm. nr. S 475: Om hjælp til den danske statsborger og menneskerettighedsaktivist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

Hvad har udenrigsministeren tænkt sig at gøre for at hjælpe den danske statsborger og menneskerettighedsaktivist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, der sidder som politisk fange i diktaturstaten Bahrain?

Anders Samuelsen, udenrigsminister:

Som det vil være spørgeren bekendt er der tale om en personsag, som er underlagt tavshedspligt. Det giver i sagens natur begrænsninger på, hvad jeg kan oplyse i dette forum. Lad mig også erindre om, at sagen løbende er blevet behandlet i fortrolighed i udenrigspolitisk nævn, som er det rette sted at drøfte denne type sager. Nu til mit svar. Skiftende danske udenrigsministre har siden 2011 arbejdet aktivt for at finde en humanitær løsning, som indebærer at den dansk-bahrainske statsborger kan løslades og få rehabilitering og behandling for den tortur som han har været udsat for i forbindelse med den fængslingen. Jeg vil naturligvis fortsætte den linje. Arbejdet med sagen foregår både på politisk og diplomatisk niveau, i form af kontakter med Bahrain og internationale samarbejdspartnere. Dialogen med Bahrain foregår uden offentlighed af hensyn til muligheden for at finde en løsning. Danmark har også taget sagen op adskillige gange ved samlinger i FN’s menneskerettighedsråd senest d. 19. september 2016, hvor Danmark opfordrede Bahrain til løsladelse af fængslede politiske fanger herunder den dansk-bahrainske statsborger. Samtidig yder udenrigsministeriet via ambassaden i Riyadh konsulær bistand til omtalte i form af regelmæssige fængselsbesøg som det også sker med andre danske statsborgere der er fængslet i udlandet. Endelig har udenrigsministeriet regelmæssig kontakt med familien. Vi fortsætter arbejdet ufortrødent, men jeg kan desværre ikke love en hurtig løsning på sagen.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

Tak, jeg har selvfølgelig fuldt ud forståelse og udenrigsministeren er også ny og der bliver gjort en masse ting. Jeg vil spørge om udenrigsministeren er opmærksom på, at der har jo været en aktion mod det her fængsel i Bahrain for en uge siden hvor 7 politiske fanger flygtede og at regimet siden har strammet grebet yderligere, om det er en situation som man er opmærksom på fra dansk udenrigsministeries side?

Anders Samuelsen, udenrigsminister:

Øhm, ambassaden i Riyadh er ikke bekendt med at de generelle forhold i fængslet eller for den dansk-bahrainske statsborger skulle være blevet forværret siden fangeflugten.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

Det vil sige, at jeg skal forstå det sådan at vil man lægge den samme linje som man hele tiden har gjort hvor der er, der har selvfølgelig været nogle besøg, men der er ikke sket så meget kan vi også godt sige og jeg ved godt at alle udenrigsministre gerne vil have al-Khawaja fri, kunne man forestille sig, at den nye udenrigsminister måske ville gå endnu mere aktivt ind i sagen end det hidtil har været tilfældet?

Anders Samuelsen, udenrigsminister:

Jeg vil fastholde samme intense fokus på den her sag som der har været hidtil gældende.

Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S):

Og det vil så udelukkende blive holdt til al-Khawaja eller kan vi også måske fra den danske regerings side forvente en generel kritik af at det er et af de lande i hele verden der har flest politiske fanger?

Anders Samuelsen, udenrigsminister:

Jeg har ikke noget yderligere at tilføje. Linjen vil blive forfulgt, vi vil følge op på sagen løbende og det er det der er indstillingen herfra.

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