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Campaigners demand investigation into training of international police forces accused of torture

by Ceren Sagir
Deputy News Editor

ANTI-ARMS campaigners called for an investigation today into Britain’s training of international police forces that have been accused of torture and other human rights abuses.

Since its founding in 2012, the College of Policing has provided training and assistance to at least 78 countries, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Of these, at least 12 are listed as “human rights priority countries” by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Its list includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, Colombia, Libya, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia.

The college has also provided training to a number of countries that have been accused of torture but are not on the FCDO’s list, CAAT said.

India, Nigeria and the US have received training and also buy arms from Britain.

In June 2019, the US was suspected of using British-made “crowd control” policing equipment to violently attack Black Lives Matter protesters following the death of George Floyd. 

And in July, photos taken by activists in Greece showed the police using tear gas and stun grenades made by British companies against pro-democracy campaigners. 

The college does not publish details of the training it has provided, but a recent freedom of information request by CAAT found that training for some listed regions like Bahrain and Hong Kong was provided as recently as last year.

CAAT is calling on the government to halt police training programmes for repressive state forces and conduct a review of all international training offered by the college.

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “Many of these police forces have been accused of torture and other abuses. They use their power to uphold brutal and repressive laws. 

“The UK should not be collaborating with them or strengthening their authoritarian rule.

“The killing of George Floyd and the repression that followed drew international attention to state violence. But it is not just an issue in the United States, it is happening all across the world. 

“There must be an end to the hypocrisy and a full review of which police units the UK has trained and if they have been responsible for human rights abuses.”

A Government spokesperson said: “It is right that we work with countries around the world to improve policing and address common threats to keep the UK safe.

“Such work always seeks to enhance human rights.”

A College of Policing spokesman said: “Before we undertake any international work, we refer to the Joint International Policing Hub (JIPH), which assesses all requests against British values and in the context of maintaining UK security.

"The International Police Assistance Brief (IPAB) is a process overseen by the JIPH which is made up of policing representatives and those of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Home Office and the Ministry of Defence Police.

“The College works with various countries around the world and respect for human rights and dignity is interwoven into all of its programmes.”

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