Yorkshire university under fire for teaching course at centre where prisoners are tortured

A peer has called on Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart to “boldly go where he hasn’t gone before” by investigating how the Yorkshire university where he is Emeritus Chancellor teaches at a centre where political prisoners are tortured.

Maher Abbas al-Khabbaz was also arrested after a policeman was killed with a flare gun at pro-democracy demonstration. This was despite an alibi saying he was at work at the time and no other evidence against him.
Maher Abbas al-Khabbaz was also arrested after a policeman was killed with a flare gun at pro-democracy demonstration. This was despite an alibi saying he was at work at the time and no other evidence against him.

Lord Scriven was speaking at the launch of new report into how British taxpayers are paying £1.8m a year to fund police institutions in Bahrain where detainees are beaten for days.

Campaigners are calling on the government to halt all payments by the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF) to security forces in the tiny Gulf state where 26 men are on Death Row.

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Many were convicted solely on the basis of confessions extracted through torture methods including electric shocks, beatings, sexual assaults and hanging by the arms for days.

Huddersfield University, where Sir Patrick holds the honorary position, teaches a masters course in security science at Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing which has served as hub for interrogation and forced confessions since 2015.

Lord Scriven said: “My direct appeal to Sir Patrick is: ‘Stop being silent and start at least speaking out and if you’re not happy with the answers you’re getting then think you should seriously consider your position within Huddersfield University.”

The Lib Dem peer said he had twice tried to reach out to the 82-year-old actor, who has previously worked with Amnesty International, but received no response.

“It’s very disappointing on a personal level, knowing his values on human rights, why he’s decided to stay quiet on this issue.”

The report, called “’The Court is Satisfied with the Confession’: Bahrain Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials”, was compiled by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

It examines six cases where prisoners have been sentenced to death solely on the basis of confessions it’s claimed were extracted through beatings, sleep deprivation and use of electrical shocks to the chest and genitals.

The family of detained man Mohamed Ramadhan, 37, are campaigning for his release after the father-of-three was sentenced to death for the killing of a policeman hit by a flare during pro-democracy protests.

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Campaigners say there is no evidence against the former security guard except for a confession of another man, Husain Moosa, extracted under torture.

The Foreign Office said it funded projects in Bahrain to support the country’s reforms of its justice system.

Hotel bellboy Maher Abbas al-Khabbaz was also arrested after a policeman was killed with a flare gun at pro-democracy demonstration. This was despite an alibi saying he was at work at the time and no other evidence against him.

A spokesman said: “All projects on justice and security issues with partners overseas are subject to rigorous risk assessments to meet our human rights’ expectations.

"While we recognise challenges remain, stepping back from supporting reforms would be counterproductive.”

The University of Huddersfield was approached for comment.