BRITISH police have advised their Bahraini counterparts on how to “whitewash” deaths in custody, international human rights group Reprieve alleged yesterday.
The guidance was part of a widely criticised multimillion-pound training deal with the Gulf kingdom, where security forces routinely rely on torture and the death penalty, both banned under international law.
The revelations adds to growing concerns about the use of Britain’s police and security forces as “guns for hire” to despotic regimes.
Bahrain’s poor human rights record has been highlighted recently by the case of Mohammed Ramadan, who has been held on death row since 2014. His lawyers allege that he was tortured into making a false confession.
Reprieve, which specialises in such cases and represents Mr Ramadan, argues that an investigation into his mistreatment, launched earlier this year, has been “deeply flawed and failed to meet international standards.”
An email unearthed by Reprieve shows that senior Bahraini police officers asked Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman in January for advice on how to present its handling of police complaints.
The visit focused on investigations involving deaths or serious injuries caused by police and how to liaise with families in these cases, according to emails obtained by Reprieve through freedom of information requests.
Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “It is shocking that Britain paid for Bahrain’s police to learn how to whitewash deaths in custody.
“Bahrain’s police have tortured innocent people like Mohammed Ramadan into confessing falsely to crimes that carry the death penalty and intimidated relatives who try to complain.”