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UK Funding Bahrain Organisations Accused of Torture: The Telegraph

2022-10-13 - 9:42 am

Bahrain Mirror: The British "The Telegraph" newspaper stated that the UK government has provided millions in funding to security services in Bahrain accused of serious human rights abuses including torture, according to a new report. 

It may also have broken its own rules by allegedly not properly assessing its financial support to Bahrain's judicial system, whose use of capital punishment should have attracted the highest level of government scrutiny.

If true, that would be a breach of the UK's own guidelines around financing given to countries that have capital punishment, which states that the government should either seek assurances that defendants will not face the death penalty or subject the funding to additional ministerial consultation.

That does not appear to have happened, according to Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei, director of advocacy at the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), which wrote the new report jointly with Human Rights Watch. 

"In my belief the government is breaking its own rules when it comes to providing assistance to Bahrain," Al-Wadaei  told The Telegraph.

Since ending a de facto moratorium on executions in 2017, Bahrain has put six prisoners to death, according to the report.

It alleges that Bahrain's judiciary failed to respect the presumption of innocence for at least eight of the 26 people currently on death row on the tiny Gulf island.

Defendants in these cases say they have been subjected to electric shocks to the genitals, attempted rape, beatings and sleep deprivation.

The report found these allegations credible, noting their consistency and corroboration from medical examinations conducted by government doctors. "In some cases, prosecutors appeared to be complicit in these abuses," the authors wrote.

The report called on the British government to suspend its funding to Bahrain.  

Instead, the UK should investigate Bahrain's "rotten oversight bodies that are neck-deep in whitewashing systematic torture in the country," said Mr. Al-Wadaei.

Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said: "It is shameful that the UK government is supporting institutions implicated in grave human rights abuses."

The UK has provided millions of pounds to its wealthy ally Bahrain in recent years, through an opaque fund aimed at promoting the rule of law and human rights in repressive Gulf monarchies.

Responding to a freedom of information act request, the Government acknowledged that there was no ministerial consultation over any funding provided to Bahrain in the financial year 2020/2021. Funding to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia was quietly doubled in the 2021/2022 financial year despite a deteriorating rights landscape in which Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in a single day earlier this year.

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