UK Government Withholds Info about Security Memorandum with Bahrain, Says Disclosure Would Harm National Security

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SHAFAQNA –  The British government once again refused to disclose information and documents about Security Memorandum with Bahrain. In a response letter from the UK Home Office to Bahrain Watch member, John Horne, who sent an official freedom of information request, regarding the agreement/MOU signed with Bahrain, it said that “the Home Office holds the information that you requested. However, after careful consideration we have decided that the information is exempt from disclosure under sections 24(1) and 27(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act. These provide that information can be withheld for the purpose of safeguarding national security and where disclosure would prejudice relations between the UK and any other state, [and] would damage the UKs bilateral relationship [with Bahrain].”

“If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting a complaint within two months to the [Information Access Team of the Home Office]. If you ask for an internal review, it would be helpful if you could say why you are dissatisfied with the response,” the Home Office further stated in its response letter sent to Horne on Thursday (April 23, 2015).

“As part of any internal review the Department’s handling of your information request will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. If you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you would have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act,” the Home Office added.

Bahrain Watch’s John Horne sent a request to the British government on March 24, 2015, asking for information about signed security memorandums of understanding or similar agreements with countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Brazil), which was mentioned in the published 2014 Annual Report on the UK CONTEST strategy, and which aimed at broadening and deepening security relationships between the respective countries.

Horne also requested further information regarding the agreement/MOU signed with Bahrain, specifically requesting details of what the agreement entails (and if possible a copy of the agreement), the specific authorities the agreement is between and the date on which it was signed.

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