A report by Reprieve, an anti-death penalty charity, has accused the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office of funding training for hundreds of prison guards working at Bahrain’s death row jail.
The group also said that at least one innocent man faces imminent execution after being tortured into making a false confession.
A news release by Reprieve said: “Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO), a state-owned Belfast business, received almost a million pounds in UK taxpayer money last year for work with Bahrain’s interior ministry.
“In 2015 more than a dozen NI-CO experts worked with Bahrain’s prison staff at jails where systematic torture took place, and trained as many as 400 guards who work at Jau, which holds prisoners awaiting execution.
“NI-CO is embedded in Bahrain’s internal security apparatus, raising concerns about conflicts of interest.
“A victim could be abused by NI-CO trained police, tortured in prison by NI-CO trained guards, and then have their torture allegation investigated and dismissed by the NI-CO trained ombudsman”.
Harriet McCulloch, deputy director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “UK money is complicit in covering up torture in Bahrain. The Foreign Office needs to come clean about what it has paid NI-CO to do with a repressive regime like Bahrain”.
The report also highlighted NI-CO’s work with other repressive regimes, such as a €9m project in Egypt funded by the EU.
Reprieve has called on NI-CO to stop working with Bahrain’s Interior Ministry until the Gulf country “ratifies international laws against torture and allows independent UN inspections”.