Human rights charity criticises Hampshire police for training high-ranking Saudi officer

A picture tweeted by Waterlooville police of Abraham from Saudi Arabia on patrol
A picture tweeted by Waterlooville police of Abraham from Saudi Arabia on patrol
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A HUMAN rights charity has criticised Hampshire Constabulary for training a senior Saudia Arabian police officer.

Reprieve said the Middle Eastern country’s police are involved in shocking abuse, torture and death sentences resulting from unfair trials.

A picture on Twitter reveals police in Waterlooville were tasked with showing a senior Saudi officer neighbourhood policing skills under a College of Policing scheme. An international delegation, including officers from other countries, was being trained.

The charity recently obtained a College of Policing document showing it was training Saudi police in forensics – despite those skills being used to identify people who were then tortured.

In a statement to The News Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said ‘safeguards’ need to be put in place.

Her statement added: ‘Saudi Arabia has an appalling human rights record, and Saudi police forces in particular are involved in shocking abuses, including systematic torture and death sentences resulting from unfair trials.

‘The juvenile protestors Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher were all brutally tortured by Saudi police into confessing to crimes they did not commit and now face imminent execution. The prospect of British assistance to Saudi police leading to the identification, arrest, and torture of peaceful protesters is not a spectre but a very real possibility.

‘The Foreign Office needs to make sure proper safeguards are in place before inviting Gulf police to join local patrols in the UK.’

The visit was in September.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘The College of Policing had international students over from the Middle East on a Senior Leaders Course. The College arranged the visits and it allowed the students to see how we engage with the local community. The “students” were high ranking officers. As part of the course they were sent out to work the local Neighbourhood Policing Team.’

A College of Policing spokesman said: ‘We work with countries all over the world to introduce officers to British policing methods, reinforce human rights and emphasise the democratic principle of justice for all.

‘Our decisions on whether to carry out this training must be finely balanced between the opportunities to contribute to reform and the difficulties of working with countries whose standards of human rights may be at odds with our own.

‘As part of this, when we receive a request to undertake training overseas, we carry out a full risk and justice assessment and complete a detailed outline of the proposed work, including specific consideration of human rights issues.

‘Any evidence that the skills provided have been used to violate human rights would be investigated immediately.’