By Scott Lucas, EAWorldview, 08.05.2012 1815 GMT: Eighteen members of the European Parliament have called on the European Union to hold the Bahrain government accountable over current and historic human rights violations, with targeted sanctions to follow if a strict deadline for reform is not met. In a letter to Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, the MEPs noted Saturday's arrest of Nabeel Rajab as "only the latest escalation of the increasingly repressive policy by the Bahraini government against the opposition movement" The letter, initiated by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, continues:
It is high time the EU speaks out against the ongoing repression of the opposition and violation of human rights. In its resolution of 15 March 2012 on human rights violations in Bahrain the Parliament called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators, political activists, human rights defenders, doctors and paramedics, bloggers and journalists" and urged you to "hold the Bahraini Government to its promises to respect human rights, implement the necessary reforms, start independent investigations into human rights violations and ensure that those responsible are held to account." We urge you to reiterate this call and hold the Bahraini Government to its promises, and to set a clear deadline to be met in order to prevent serious consequences. We call on you to prepare a set of targeted restrictive measures, including; a formal ban on the export of all military equipment (in particular tear gas), to ensure that no military equipment is sold or exported from within the EU to Bahrain; visa bans and asset freezes for those individuals responsible for the violent repression of peaceful protestors. It is essential for the EU's credibility in the region to show that the EU has a consistent policy towards governments violating their citizens' human rights.