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UK MP Andy Slaughter: We Demand Answers on UK Government Involvement in Violations in Bahrain

2018-09-13 - 8:32 p

Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: UK MP Andy Slaughter said in an article on Politics Home website that the UK's reputation as a promoter and defender of human rights internationally is increasingly under scrutiny and Parliament deserves answers.

Slaughter noted that the FCO refuses to tell the public and MPs the real scope of its technical assistance package in Bahrain, who the recipients are, how much it spends on each program and which programs are funded by which funds.

This is in addition to the FCO's refusal to disclose any of the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) assessments completed for these projects, as well as remaining questions as to whether UK government trainers were present inside of specific Bahraini detention facilities at times when torture is alleged to have occurred.

He also said that he raised similar concerns two years ago with the then Lord Chancellor about the Saudi prison contract with the College of Policing led to that cooperation being withdrawn.

The MP stressed that he "awaits an overdue decision by the Foreign Secretary on whether to hold a full judicial inquiry into alleged complicity of UK intelligence services in torture and rendition."

He indicated that he, with other MPs from several Parties, have secured a Backbench Business Debate to seek answers from the Government as to its continuing work in Bahrain and the effectiveness of its safeguards against UK involvement in human rights abuses.

The MP stated that the FCO ceased funding its reform program using the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund and transitioned to the Global Britain Fund and the Integrated Activity Fund, about which even less is known. When asked, ministers have refused to provide details of these funds, so Parliament has been unable to provide scrutiny or oversight.

The UK government has spent more than £5 million since 2012 on a package of technical assistance to Bahrain with the aim of improving the Gulf monarchy's poor human rights record. But after six years, the human rights situation in Bahrain has deteriorated precipitously.

Slaughter said "Much of the FCO's assistance program has gone to funding training for elements of Bahrain's criminal justice system, from the police and prison guards to the Public Prosecution's Special Investigation Unit and the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior. During this training or after it, these Bahraini institutions were implicated in serious human rights violations against death row inmates."

UK programs in Bahrain have been funded largely from the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund, a £1.13 billion cross-departmental fund that has received parliamentary criticism for its lack of transparency and accountability. In 2017, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy described it as "opaque".

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