An international human rights group has called on a company owned by Invest NI to immediately suspend a contract to train security forces in Bahrain. Reprieve says police and prison officers in the state systematically torture and abuse government opponents.

NI-CO was awarded a £900,000 foreign office contract last year to help reform Bahrain's security forces. It says the assistance it provides is in line with recommendations from the UN and a Bahrain Commission of Inquiry. Belfast-based NI-CO (Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Invest NI.

Project teams working for the company have been working in Bahrain's security and justice sectors for the past three years.They have worked with the police and prison services, as well as the office of the Ombudsman, whose job is to investigate allegations of torture. A Reprieve report says all of those organisations are guilty of systematic abuse.

"The global community, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations, other governments, are clear that the human rights situation in Bahrain is dire," said Reprieve's deputy director Harriet McCulloch. "Bahrain's police are widely reported to be involved in abuse, Bahrain's prisons are widely reported to be the sites of incredibly brutal torture."

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