UK Foreign Aid Spent on Notorious Human Rights Abuser, Bahrain
2016-05-25 - 11:53 م
Bahrain Mirror: The United Kingdom continues to train troops from the island kingdom of Bahrain, who is on Britain's own human rights watchlist, as well as other authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Burma.
Senior officers from the prison service in Bahrain were flown to Northern Ireland in January to visit three jails as part of a £2.1million training project, reported the Daily Mail on its website.
In an article entitled "Torture regime's £2.1million to train prison guards: UK foreign aid is revealed after Bahrain's human rights record is criticised," the Daily Mail shed light on the widespread condemnations and criticism made by human rights defenders, following the seating of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa beside Queen Elizabeth II during her 90th birthday celebration at the Windsor Castle last week.
Human rights campaigners denounced the Bahraini government's record of political oppression and unlawful killings. Protesters may also have questioned why millions of pounds of British taxpayers' cash is sent to the oil-rich regime as UK foreign aid - with some used to train guards at prisons where torture is said to be rife.
UK campaigners were also quick to speak up on the apparent hypocrisy.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told the Independent the fact the states in question are on the list "is a sign of how oppressive they are."
"The UK military should not be colluding with or legitimising human rights abusers," he stressed.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: ‘The foreign aid budget is bloated, focuses on inputs rather than outcomes and its record for promoting freedom is poor.'
For his part, a Foreign Office spokesman claimed the UK worked with Bahrain ‘to provide extensive reform assistance focused on strengthening human rights and the rule of law.'
"Our strong relationship means that we are able to have frank and honest conversations on human rights at the highest levels with the government of Bahrain," he said.
However, "information released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shows that since 2014 UK military personnel have given training to 16 countries whose record on human rights is dubious to say the least," highlighted Russia Today in an article.
"These include countries the UK has recently attacked such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan; Gulf theocracies such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; former colonies Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sudan; and even global rivals such as China," it added.
---Although the Bahrain government curtails freedom of expression, imprisons opposition leaders and commonly uses torture-according to the 2015/16 Amnesty International annual report-.
RT further noted that "a military spokesperson said all overseas training is carried out according to the UK government's Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance."
"The fundamental right of all humans to fair treatment is intrinsic to all British Military training activity," proclaimed the military spokesperson.
The revelation; however, appears to chime with what Amnesty International has branded a global downgrading of the UK's human rights obligations in favour of alliances and trade.
Following the group's annual report in February, Amnesty's UK director Kate Allen said British links with China and Saudi Arabia have shown the UK is willing to compromise on human rights.
She said she believed the replacement of William Hague as foreign secretary with Philip Hammond has contributed to the lack of focus on human rights.
Allen also warned Britain is setting "a dangerous precedent to the world on human rights."
"There's no doubt that the downgrading of human rights by this government is a gift to dictators the world over and fatally undermines our ability to call on other countries to uphold rights and laws," she stressed.
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