COGÚS: Six County State Training Human Rights Abusers

It has come to the attention of Cogús prisoner support group that over the past five years the PSNI and the prison staff within the six counties have carried out training exercises with nations which, in terms of their practices regarding the human rights of their citizens are, dubious at best and brutally authoritarian at their worst.

Coming under criticism from the human rights group Reprieve for “sharing its expertise on gathering intelligence ahead of parades” one such parade being the Henry Joy McCracken commemorative march organised by Republican Network for Unity. The PSNI reacted quickly with a denial of alleged training, Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd stating “”The PSNI have never provided training to Bahrain police officers in Bahrain or Northern Ireland”. Despite this claim it will become quite obvious to the reader that the alleged training exercises indeed took place.

In a Freedom of Information Request answered in 2015 in relation to the PSNI’s training of the security forces of other countries, the answer read as such;

“A search of our records was carried out and in the last five years, from January 2010 to June 2015, a total of 28 PSNI officers and 1 civilian member of staff have been sent to other countries as a result of requests from foreign police forces or governments. These requests came from the countries of Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Croatia, Kosovo, Oman and Qatar and in total PSNI staff members have spent 357.5 days assisting these foreign countries.”

Perhaps Mr. Todd was not as thoroughly prepped as one would have suspected when accused of training security forces which frequently engage in mass arrests of peaceful protesters and carry out torture to ensure confession and conviction or alternatively he presumed that those reading his denial would be so absent minded as to forget this particularly morally bankrupt practice.

In relation to the prison service, an engagement in the training of nations such as Bahrain and Egypt, nations with a large number of political prisoners critical of the existing regimes, has also taken place. The state owned Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO) business is the medium in which prison staff from countries known for their human rights abuses are then being trained in tactics by their six county state counterparts. This has alarmingly taken place in Maghaberry prison, the daily harassment and abuses of republican political prisoners undoubtedly a point of interest for these prison staff.

Following on from these recent revelations, the particular case of Irish prisoner Ibrahim Halawa, currently incarcerated by the Egyptian state, cannot be ignored as the prison staff of the six county state must share the guilt of the crimes of those they offer assistance and training. Ibrahim, arrested as a minor of seventeen, has been a prisoner of the Egyptian regime for the past three and a half years. With his health rapidly deteriorating and the repeated delays in relation to his trial (having been postponed a total of nineteen times), it is with great concern that we state that Ibrahim may not live to see his trial and the prison staff of the North will be an accomplice of the death of a young Irish citizen, innocent of crime and free of guilt.

The purpose of such transnational security cooperation is quite clear when due consideration is given to the context of the training. That it was not as many of the proponents of the state would incredulously argue, to improve the policing of other nations in line with internationally recognised human rights. The purpose of such exercises, and the denial thereof, is simply to aid in the transition of the aforementioned states from overt human rights abusers and enemies of democracy to perpetrators of the same crimes through covert machinations. In this, the security apparatus of the six county state have been able to carry out their campaign against political dissent while maintaining the façade of the democratic state.