British university training Bahrain police based at ‘torture hub’ where electrocutions, rape and beatings all reported

‘Masters degrees stained with blood,’ says human rights group demanding end to course

Colin Drury
Wednesday 19 February 2020 16:51 GMT
University of Huddersfield
University of Huddersfield

A British university which trains Bharani police studying at a base that activists say is a well-known “torture hub” is teaching a blood-stained degree, a rights group has said.

The University of Huddersfield runs a masters course in security science for officers and recruits at the Middle East country’s Royal Academy of Policing.

But witness statements suggest a prison there may have been the scene of electrocutions, rape and beating of inmates – many of them political prisoners.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, based in London, has now called on the West Yorkshire university – which flies staff to Bahrain for the course – to end its lucrative contract with the kingdom.

In a letter to vice-chancellor Professor Bob Cryan, the organisation outlined allegations of torture against 10 prisoners said to have taken place at the academy between 2016 and 2019.

They include political opponents of the island nation’s rulers having electrodes attached to genitals, as well as being beaten, deprived of sleep, threatened with the rape of family members, sexually assaulted and being made to sign pre-prepared confessions.

At least one of the 10, Ali Al Arab, has since been executed.

In the letter, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, BIRD’s director of advocacy, warns: “It is scandalous that the University of Huddersfield has reserved an MSc in Security Science exclusively for students at an institution known by Bahraini prisoners as one of Bahrain’s most notorious torture hubs.

“The university management have had their heads in the sand about the abusive nature of their business partner. It is time for them to end this toxic relationship or their Master’s certificates will be stained with blood.”

Speaking to The Independent, he added: “If the university management continues to accept money stained by torture they will be committing institutional suicide.”

The call to end the course has been echoed by Amnesty International UK.

Oliver Sprague, the charity’s policing expert, said: “Huddersfield University should immediately suspend its provision of these courses until there has been a full investigation into the possibility of links between graduates of the course and the torture of prisoners in Bahrain.

“There can of course be a legitimate role for UK universities to teach courses on responsible security techniques, but torture in Bahrain is well-documented and Huddersfield must surely have been aware of the need for scrupulous care in avoiding any facilitation of prisoner abuse.”

But on Wednesday, almost two weeks after BIRD’s letter was sent, university bosses had not budged on the issue.

In statement sent to The Independent, Huddersfield University said the communication was being given “full consideration”, but, crucially, it did not respond on the question of if it would continue with the course – which it is contracted to run until 2022.

It added the course was not linked to the 10 accusations of torture.

Bahrain – supposedly a constitutional monarchy but one where the royal family retains almost unlimited power – has repeatedly denied accusations of torture and said police officers found to have committed wrongdoing are prosecuted.

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