Human rights campaigners claim torture, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and unfair trials are the norm in Bahrain. They have called on the British prime minster to use her influence “to press the Bahrain government to put an immediate stop to this repression.”
Yet, Mrs. May has not allowed these allegations to trump British business interests and has explained that this trip is a marvelous opportunity for “[Persian] Gulf investment” that is “regenerating cities across the UK." Mrs. May added that she hoped her “visit will herald the start of a new chapter in relations between the United Kingdom and the Gulf."
Mrs. May’s attitude has naturally angered human rights advocates and action groups. Human Rights Watch, Reprieve and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) have all wrote to Mrs. May, urging her to do more to press Bahrain on legal and political reforms.
However, the sharpest of criticisms has come from an Amnesty International report. Amnesty International, based on 90 interviews with Bahraini human rights activists, said in its report that it is "utterly disingenuous" of the British government to pretend it is delivering substantial human rights reform in Bahrain, indicating that "no senior officers or officials who oversaw the serious human rights violations during the 2011 uprising have faced prosecution."