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Politicians and rights groups call on the University of Huddersfield to end links with Bahraini police

The BBC reported that politicians and human rights activists have renewed calls for the University of Huddersfield to end links with the Bahraini police forces due to human rights violations committed in Bahrain. 

The university runs a masters programme in security sciences at the Royal Academy of Police in Bahrain, which has been accused of abusing and torturing prisoners in Bahrain.  

The BBC said that the university trained at least 25 members of the security forces in Bahrain each year as part of an agreement with the government of Bahrain. 

In the programme, recruits are taught modules such as investigative forensic psychology and terrorism and conflict resolution.

university press release in 2019 said the degree was taught at the Royal Academy of Police, near Jaww in the Gulf state.

A report compiled by Human Rights Watch and another campaign group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), details allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, attempted rape and electrical shocks being conducted at the academy.

The report is based largely on court records and other official documents, along with the testimonies of eight men who have been sentenced to death by the Bahrain authorities.

One of the authors, BIRD’s Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei, said it highlighted for the first time specific allegations of torture at a police facility in which the University of Huddersfield was delivering training to recruits.

“This is really significant they are training the Bahraini violent police – the same police that are responsible for serious crimes under international law like torture.”

There are no allegations that anyone directly employed by the University of Huddersfield has engaged in or has knowledge of alleged human rights abuses being carried out at the academy.

In response to the allegations, the Bahrain embassy in the UK told the BBC it had put measures in place to stop human rights abuses.

It accepted there had been “individual cases of misconduct” within the police in the past, but said “these cases were investigated and dealt with accordingly.”

Using information available from Freedom of Information requests the BBC estimates since 2017 the University of Huddersfield may have earned over one million pounds by providing training to the Bahraini police force.

Lord Paul Scriven, who is part of the All Parliamentary Group for Democracy and Human Rights in the Gulf, has written to the university calling on them to halt their teaching in the Gulf state.

“They need to stand back, reflect and look at the potential implication of their institution being highlighted in human rights abuses”, the Liberal Democrat peer said.

“It’s down to the vice-chancellor Bob Cryan to come out with concrete evidence to prove that since his institution was in Bahrain, that the academy of police hasn’t been implicated in human rights abuses. If he can’t do that then he has to close down this course”.

The University of Huddersfield said it would not comment further on any of the allegations outlined and that it would respond to Lord Scriven’s letter in due course.

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