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Huddersfield university pressured to break its partnership with an institution implicated in torture in Bahrain

A parliamentary report sheds light on the relationship of a British university to an institution in Bahrain accused of committing human rights violations.

The parliamentary report featured an 11-year-old Bahraini boy talking to British politicians about his father’s death row in Bahrain.

Ahmed Ramadan appeared on the Zoom screen to say that his father is awaiting execution in the Gulf country “because of a crime he did not commit.”

The boy’s appeal was included in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and Human Rights in the Gulf.

It says human rights organizations in Bahrain funded by UK taxpayers cover up allegations of torture led to Mohammed Ramadan’s conviction.

Earlier this year, 40 MPs from different parties urged the University of Huddersfield to close its master’s course at the Royal Police Academy in Bahrain after multiple allegations that political opponents were tortured in the academy building.

The members wrote to the university’s vice president, Bob Cryan, saying the university was at risk of “indirect involvement in human rights abuses” by holding a master’s course in security sciences for academy officers.

In an introduction to the Parliamentary Report, MP Brendan O’Hara and Lord Scriven said: “Having personally met with victims such as Ahmed Ramadan, the 11-year-old son of a Bahraini prisoner on death row, it is appalling to see the efforts being made to end the abuses repeatedly obstructed by the UK government and over and over again.

Ahmed’s father can now be executed at any moment without warning to his wife and three children, despite the UN’s call for his immediate release and compensation.”

In his address to the deputies, Ahmed said: “The last time my father picked me up from school, I was only four years old. My brother and sister were too young to remember.

I can only see my father through a glass window in prison. Because of the coronavirus, I was not allowed to visit him for a year.”

The report said the UK-funded Special Investigations Unit’s investigation into the case was criticized by the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture for being “seriously flawed” and failing to meet “minimum professional and minimum international legal standards”.

A spokesman for the University of Huddersfield said: “The delivery of this course is in line with the mission advocated by the UK government.”

He went on to quote James Cleverly, Britain’s Secretary of State for the Middle East and North Africa, as saying last year that Bahrain was “taking steps in the right direction to improve its human rights record” but that this was a “work in progress” that needed our “support”.

The university said the master’s course aims to help provide police in Bahrain with “modern police practices and methods”.

Dozens of academics worldwide have called on the University of Huddersfield to suspend the controversial master’s degree program it runs with the Royal Academy of Police in Bahrain due to allegations of widespread torture of political prisoners there.

The master’s course in security sciences, which includes lecturers from Huddersfield to train Bahrani police officers, has been running since 2018 but has been insisted by allegations that the academy has been used as a “torture centre”.

Among the signatories are two professors from the University of Leeds and one from the University of Bradford.

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