Belfast Telegraph

PSNI paid £6,000 a day to train cops in slavery-tolerating Qatar

By Deborah McAleese

The Gulf state of Qatar paid almost £6,000 a day for four PSNI members to train its police officers, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Three PSNI officers and a civilian member of staff delivered 10 days of public order and riot training in the oil-rich country, which has been heavily criticised for human rights abuses.

Qatar is getting ready for the 2022 World Cup, and in March was given a year to end migrant worker slavery or face a possible United Nations investigation.

The Qatar Government last year requested "advice, guidance and training" from the PSNI and other UK police forces in a number of areas, including riot control and human rights. Information obtained by the Belfast Telegraph reveals that in October two PSNI chief inspectors, a constable and a staff member travelled to the capital of Doha to deliver public order training to a small group of officers.

The Qataris paid the PSNI more than £59,000 - amounting to £5,900 a day for the three officers and one staff member.

Another 27 officers and civilian staff members were involved in supporting three Qatari police officers who travelled to Northern Ireland for short placements with the PSNI to learn more about policing with the community, human rights policing and human resources.

As previously revealed by this newspaper, the Qatar Government also hosted PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton in October on a visit as a VIP guest to "foster relationships".

Mr Hamilton, who is understood to have been joined by two PSNI officers and a staff member, was flown business class to the country and put up in the luxury five-star St Regis Hotel in Doha for two nights.

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At the time the PSNI said that the Patten Report on policing made it clear "that PSNI must consider the provision of more training for overseas police services in a number of areas." A

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "The request from Qatar to provide these services was considered by the PSNI based on our experience and in recognition of our human rights-based policing approach.

"Having agreed to a pilot programme, approval was sought and received from the Northern Ireland Policing Board and Department of Justice."

A PSNI source said that any future provision of assistance to the Qataris could "have the potential to generate income for the PSNI at a time of financial uncertainty". The organisation has been forced to review service delivery in the face of drastic budget cuts.

However, one officer said there were concerns among some within the force over the relationship with a country that is facing a potential United Nations investigation for human rights abuse. "We would be concerned that any training we offer could be used to quell legitimate democratic protests," the officer said.

Just last month the UN gave Qatar a year to end forced labour of migrant workings after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that employees were stranded without pay or passports.

Although Qatar is not a human rights country of concern for the Foreign Office, Amnesty International has raised concerns over the recent relationship between the Gulf State and the PSNI.

"We have concerns about PSNI training of police in countries which have poor human rights records," it said.

"The Chief Constable and Policing Board must look closely at policing in any country where there is a request to deliver police training."

In the past the PSNI has refused requests by other countries for assistance on the basis of their human rights record.

Belfast Telegraph


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