The Independent: UK Home Secretary under Fire over Tour of Bahrain Police Station where HR Activists were Tortured

2020-12-16 - 5:43 م

Bahrain Mirror: British Home Secretary Priti Patel was criticized after visiting a police station in Bahrain where human rights activists were tortured.

The home secretary - who recently kept her job despite being found to have bullied her staff - was given a tour of a notorious police station in Bahrain where human rights activists have been tortured and sexually assaulted - including a man granted asylum in the UK.

Patel also praised the repressive Gulf state for its "progress to achieve common interests", local media reported.

The visit has been condemned by human rights groups and those mistreated at the Muharraq Governorate Police, by Bahrain's infamous National Security Agency.

They include Yusuf Al-Jamri, a democracy activist granted asylum by the Home Office after revealing how he was tortured and threatened with rape, at the police station, in 2017.

"I can't understand why Priti Patel would pay a state visit to the same police station, flanked by the people who have allowed my torturers to walk free," he told The Independent.

"How can the Home Office accept that I was tortured at this site, then send the home secretary there for a photo opportunity?"

Ebtisam Al-Saegh and Naja Yusuf, who were both imprisoned for criticizing Bahrain's ruler, also accused the security agency of torture and sexual assault at the same police station.

Ms Al-Saegh said Patel was "helping to whitewash the abuses", adding: "I could have shown her round the rooms I was tortured in and shared the grave reality individuals like myself were subjected to."

The visit, which was not publicized in the UK, took place despite a March BBC documentary detailing what had happened to the two women at Muharraq.

Their cases have been raised frequently in parliament - and Al-Saegh has met foreign officials, recounting how she was beaten repeatedly and threatened with the rape and murder of family members.

Patel was in Bahrain last weekend to attend the 2020 Manama Dialogue, an annual conference on security in the Middle East.

At Muharraq, she was accompanied by the chief of police, Tariq Al-Hasan, who has been accused of failing to end torture. His brother was the police station's director when Al-Saegh and Yusuf suffered their abuse.

Patel also held talks with Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali Al Khalifa, the minister of justice, when she reportedly praised Bahrain's progress.

"By visiting this site, accompanied by the British ambassador, the Home Secretary is emboldening torturers and bolstering the culture of impunity that reigns in the country," said Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

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