• No consistency of logic, says Foreign Affairs Committee
• At the time David Cameron said ‘Bahrain is not Syria’
The government was criticised on Tuesday for refusing to back a boycott of the Bahrain Grand Prix over human rights concerns, despite implementing its own boycott of the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said it was difficult to find any “consistency of logic” in ministers’ approach to the issue.
It said Bahrain should have been included by the Foreign Office on its list of “countries of concern” in the wake of the “brutal” suppression of anti-government protests last year.
The committee expressed concern that “political and strategic factors” had coloured the decision not to list the Gulf kingdom alongside other states held responsible for human rights abuses.
The government came under pressure to support calls for a boycott of the Formula One Grand Prix last April amid fears that it could be a catalyst for a renewed crackdown on protesters.
At the time David Cameron, the prime minister, refused, arguing “Bahrain is not Syria” and that a process of reform was under way – although ministers have since acknowledged that progress has been “minimal”.
In contrast, in June the government announced no ministers would attend England’s games played in Ukraine in the group stage of Euro 2012 following the imprisonment of the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. It followed similar moves by other European Union member states.
“We find it difficult to discern any consistency of logic behind the government’s policy in not taking a public stance on the Bahrain Grand Prix but implementing at least a partial boycott of the 2012 Uefa Football Championship matches played in Ukraine,” the committee said.