Torture fears as British police train Saudis

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SHAFAQNA – UK police plan to train Saudis in hi-tech crime detection techniques despite fears they could be used to find people, who might then be tortured.

Senior British MPs called Tuesday for the suspension of the controversial program by the College of Policing.

The college has reportedly been teaching Saudi officers finger-printing, forensics and crime scene investigation under a contract signed in 2009.

It now plans to expand the scheme to include cyber security, mobile phone analysis, CCTV systems, voice recognition, DNA use and IT digital forensics, according to internal documents obtained by the BBC and rights group Reprieve.

Reprieve condemned the program, saying the training could help Saudi police target political activists.

“It is scandalous that British police are training Saudi Arabian officers in techniques which they privately admit could lead to people being arrested, tortured and sentenced to death,” said Maya Foa, a campaigner for Reprieve.

Documents show that the College of Policy acknowledged that “the skills being trained are used to identify individuals who later go on to be tortured or subjected to other human rights abuses” by the Saudi regime.

Labour MP Andy Slaughter, the shadow minister for human rights, called the program “astonishing.”

“This is a regime which executed 47 people in one day this year, that still has minors on death row,” he said of Saudi Arabia. “We shouldn’t be having anything to do with this criminal justice system.”

Riyadh executed prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others in January, provoking angry reactions around the world.

At the time, the UK government issued its mildest possible condemnation of its ally over the mass executions.

In a scathing report last month, the United Nations’ Committee against Torture voiced “deep concern” over torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in Saudi Arabia as well as coerced confessions and death penalty in the kingdom.

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