UK: University of Huddersfield criticised for involvement in Bahrain "torture hub"

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Four protesters hold signs outside the University of Huddersfield. The placards detail human rights abuses at the Bahrain Royal Academy

The University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom has been accused of training Bahraini police at a base that is well-known as a “torture hub”. The course – an MSc in Security Science – has been run exclusively for trainee officers at the Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing since 2018.

However, the Bahraini Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has written to the vice-chancellor the university to outline allegations of torture between 2016 and 2019, and called on the university to immediately suspend the course. Torture allegations include electric shocks being applied to prisoners genitals, beatings, sleep deprivation, and threats of sexual assault against family members. At least one of the prisoners who alleged torture practises has been executed. One prisoner - Abbas Abd Ali Mohammed – alleges he was arrested and tortured at the site just days after his brother, who is based in the UK, filed a complaint against the Bahrain Embassy in London after he was assaulted by staff.

The local Quakers have also begun to hold regular vigils at the university to raise awareness, using testimony from prisoners held at the Royal Academy on placards.

A statement released by the university in 2018 announced that ten lecturers from the multi-disciplinary Secure Societies Institute will “train Bahraini police officers in the latest crime scene investigation techniques”, as well as cyber-crime, investigative psychology and criminology. At the time there were 26 officers enrolled in the programme. In response to the complaints by BIRD, a spokesperson for the university defended their involvement in the Academy, stating that “We would not uphold our values and human rights by turning our back on this issue. We achieve far more by stepping up, engaging with these countries and working with them to encourage and support their plans for reform”, and that the university’s work is in line with the British governments mission “to help Bahrain return to a stable and reformist state with a good human rights record, while protecting our significant defence and security interests and enhancing our bilateral relationships”.

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Submitted by Heather Bacon (not verified) on Wed, 11 Mar 2020 - 20:26

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I am the third pair of Quaker legs from the left here. If the university 'is not turning its back on the issue', we would ask why they will not enter a dialogue with us, why there are no due diligence investigations into the course, and why there have been allegations of torture since the course began, and why these continue.
Thanks for helping to raise awareness