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