The British “The Times” newspaper said that “The Foreign Office has been accused of trying to cover up its funding of a program to train the Bahraini police in crowd control techniques, including the use of water cannon and dogs.”
“Officials have consistently denied that the £1bn conflict, stability and security fund has been used for any public order program with Bahrain’s security forces,” it indicated.
The newspaper added “However, it has emerged that the fund was used to pay for Bahrain’s chief of police, Tariq Al-Hassan, and other senior officers to travel to Belfast to learn how police in Northern Ireland deal with public protests.”
Maya Foa, a director of the human rights organization Reprieve, said: “It’s outrageous that the government has covered up this project.”
The documents reveal that Al-Hassan toured Belfast in a visit in June 2014 that included a briefing on gathering “community intelligence” and human rights complaint systems.
In August 2015 a delegation of Bahraini senior commanders and frontline officers visited Belfast to learn how to manage “large-scale public order issues in a human rights compliant fashion”. The visit included briefings on evidence gathering and use of water cannon and dogs.
The newspaper further stated “This weekend the Foreign Office denied there was any attempt at a cover-up and said that it classified the “command and control” project in Northern Ireland as “technical assistance” rather than a public order program.”
It said: “The study visit in August 2015 was to allow members of the Bahraini police to observe how [the Police Service of Northern Ireland] manages public order issues in a human rights compliant manner.”
The Bahraini embassy in London denied torture and ill treatment were common in Bahrain. It said the Foreign Office was helping the country to implement reforms that were required in its law enforcement and judicial system.
Since February 2011, Bahrain has been the scene of almost daily demonstrations against the Al Khalifah rule.
The regime in Manama has spared no effort to clamp down on dissidents and rights activists. Scores of people have lost their lives and thousands of others have ended behind bars during the suppression campaign.