Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: The Morning Star newspaper mentioned that a British handcuff manufacturer in Birmingham is being accused of "fuelling oppression" in Bahrain over allegations that its products are being used to restrain political prisoners at a notorious Bahraini jail.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has told the Morning Star that detainees at Jaw prison, which houses leaders of the Arab Spring uprising, are now required to wear British-made handcuffs from TCH England when they are taken to the sick bay.
These included opposition leader Hasan Mushaima, 70, a cancer survivor with serious ongoing health conditions. He says guards often refuse to administer his medication if he does not wear the handcuffs. Hasan Mushaima's son, Ali, has been on hunger strike outside the Bahrain Embassy in London in protest against these acts.
BIRD advocacy director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said: "The testimonies of victims of abusive treatment at Jaw Prison suggests that those handcuffs are used to facilitate the degrading and ill treatment of prisoners, such as the elderly Hasan Mushaima."
"We urge the British government to end its complicity [with Bahrain] and ensure that British companies are held accountable for providing equipment that has direct human rights implications," he said.
Bahrain executed three men from Jaw Prison last year; Abbas Al-Samie, Sami Mushaima and Ali Al-Singace, before the British handcuffs were supplied.
BIRD claims that since those executions the prison guards have started using chain handcuffs engraved with "TCH England, TCH 800."
This is an acronym for Total Control Handcuffs, a UK limited company based in Birmingham.
The company's operations director, Geoff Cross, refused to comment on the allegations and said "the position with us is that we have a company policy where everything is commercial in confidence."
The company's website says it sells "the most comprehensive range of restraint equipment in the world." The webpages are translated into four foreign languages including Arabic, suggesting that they are soliciting customers in the Middle East.
Cross said the company's website was "international" and refused to answer questions about the alleged supply of their handcuffs to Jaw prison.
Export licenses are not always required for handcuffs, and a Department for International Trade spokesperson said: "The government has not approved the export of controlled handcuffs to Bahrain in the past three years.
"Risks around human rights violations are a key part of our assessment against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. We do not export equipment where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression."
Campaign Against the Arms Trade media coordinator Andrew Smith said: "The lack of transparency in the arms trade means that companies can do deals with brutal and oppressive dictatorships, like the regime in Bahrain, with minimal oversight and consequences.
"It's time to end the culture and the secrecy that have allowed British companies to fuel oppression around the world."
The latest allegations about the company's customers have caused consternation among Bahraini exiles in Britain. Meanwhile, Bahrain's interior ministry did not respond when contacted for comment.
The company used to be known as Hiatt. Hiatt leg irons were reportedly used in Saudi Arabian prisons, including during beheading and torture. Its handcuffs were used to shackle British citizen Moazzam Begg at Guantanamo Bay.