The Kingdom of Bahrain has issued the following statement in response to one released by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
"The Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain welcomes visits by all human rights organizations, including the Physicians for Human Rights. The Government has consistently extended invitations to interested organizations to meet with Government officials as well as other stakeholders, and have accepted numerous similar requests.
"However, an invitation is not an opportunity for imposition.
"On 4 January, Mr. Richard Sollom of the Physicians for Human Rights wrote to the Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development informing it that he wished to visit Bahrain between 8-15 January and requested a meeting, without detailed agenda, to discuss the human rights situation. As in the past, the Government has always welcomed genuine conversation and supported independent fact-finding missions, and was receptive to Mr. Sollom's request. However, given the fact that all Government officials are under tremendous work pressure to meet our self-imposed deadline of the end of February to complete the crucial work of implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Washington on instructions from the Ministry wrote to Mr. Sollom on 5 January requesting that he schedule his visit after end of February so his visit would be more beneficial and most constructive.
"Mr. Sollom ignored this request, and, without notice, instead presented himself at Bahrain International Airport on 8 January. This is discourteous and wrong.
"As in any country including the USA, there is no automatic right to physical admission to the country. There are cases of Bahrainis who were denied access to his country without a valid reason. Therefore, the authorities in the Kingdom of Bahrain maintain their discretion to admit persons, and the Bahraini authorities have not denied entry to anyone who visits for valid reasons and on account of genuine business. No-one, however, is above the law. This is as true in Bahrain as it is in the United States, Western Europe and indeed the rest of the world.
"Mr. Sollom who holds a tourist visa was courteously informed in the letter sent to him by the ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain on instructions from Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development on 5th January that he may return to Bahrain at the end of February.
"The Government, and indeed the entire nation, remains steadfast in its determination to implement BICI recommendations by the end of February. These will improve the standard of living of all Bahrainis by remedying the wrongs of the past and making permanent better governance institutions. The Government's focus is on long-term stability, security and enhancing the well-being of its citizens.
"Tangible progress has been made: five of the BICI recommendations have been implemented (Recs. 1715, 1719, 1720, 1722(h), and 1723(a)) with two more awaiting administrative formalities (Recs. 1722(j) and 1722(k)). Three more have been implemented in part (Recs. 1718, 1722(g), and 1723(c)) and meaningful progress has been made on the remaining eighteen recommendations. This is real momentum.
"Our open-door policy remains in place, but they must be orderly and in accord with what has been agreed. It is in this spirit that we have hosted recent visits by a number of national Government delegations and UN agencies such as UNODC, UNOCHR without incident."