The human rights NGO Reprieve has recently exposed the role played by an Invest NI subsidiary in torture in Bahrain. Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas Ltd (NI-CO) was awarded a £900,000 Foreign Office contract last year to help train Bahrain’s Interior Ministry Ombudsman. This ‘watchdog’ knowingly refused for more than two years to investigate allegations regarding the torture of Mohamed Ramadan—a father-of-three on death row who was tortured into making a false confession. After these allegations were exposed, the Ombudsman said it would begin an investigation. Instead, it has bullied and intimidated Mr Ramadan’s wife.
NI-CO is embedded in Bahrain’s internal security apparatus. A victim could be abused by NI-CO trained cop, tortured in prison by NI-CO trained guards, and then have their complaints investigated and dismissed by the NI-CO trained ombudsman. Yet what do our politicians have to say? Silence from most and excuses from Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, who even claimed the company “complied with rigorous UK Human Rights standards.” We demand that ties between Invest NI – a public, taxpayer funded body – and the despotic Bahraini regime be severed immediately.