According to human rights campaign group Reprieve, the UK Foreign Office paid for half a dozen Bahraini police officers to visit Belfast in August 2015, where the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) passed on knowledge relating to gathering intelligence on protestors ahead of demonstrations.
The organization claims the training also included sessions on water cannons, dog handling and public order tactics, but was kept secret from the public.
UK authorities trained Bahraini police to gather intelligence on protestors (who face jail, torture, death penalty) https://t.co/wQeqnISkDG— Richard Wellings (@RichardWellings) February 5, 2017
The UK government previously denied providing public order training in Bahrain, with the cabinet office saying: "The UK does not fund any programs in Bahrain focused on public order."
Despite these claims, documents obtained by Reprieve allegedly prove that Bahraini officers received training from a course titled, Introduction to Combined Operational Training with a focus on Public Order.
UK covered up intelligence training with Bahrain’s police, amid death sentence https://t.co/DQxSTRHikc— Reprieve (@Reprieve) February 5, 2017
The training was allegedly prepared by Northern Irish police during a week-long visit to Bahrain in April-May 2015, while it's claimed that Bahrain's chief of police and his deputies also visited Belfast on a mission in 2014.
Concerns Over UK Complicity
The fresh claims have once again raised questions over the UK's close alliance with Bahrain, with critics accusing British authorities of providing Bahraini police forces with skills that could lead to the torture and possible execution of anti-government protestors.
Authorities in Bahrain have been accused of numerous human rights breaches as a result of the government's violent crackdown on protestors in 2011, while critics have described the UK as an "over-excited cheerleader" when promoting the Gulf state's progress on human rights.
Current dictators in #Egypt (Sisi) #Oman (Qaboos) #Bahrain (Khalifa) #Qatar (Thani) have all been given military training in UK.— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) January 30, 2017
"It is outrageous that the government has covered up this project, which risks supporting the execution of protesters in Bahrain. Bahrain is notorious for arresting, torturing and sentencing to death people involved in protests," said Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve.
"By training Bahrain's police how to gather intelligence on protesters, there is a serious risk that Britain is helping them arrest and execute people who are guilty of nothing more than calling for reform. It is scandalous that the government has sought to sweep this under the carpet."