Human rights groups expressed their outrage over UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s meeting with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa in London.
The rights groups accused Johnson of putting ‘putting trade over torture’ in seeking a deal with Gulf state.
The meeting was ‘regarded as a clear and unambiguous sign of support by the dictatorship.’
Bahrain has been under international criticism for its poor human rights record amid accusations of holding children as young as 13.
The UN high commissioner for human rights said earlier this year that the country was in “violation of international law” over its treatment of prisoners.
The Crown Prince’s visit was not announced by the British authorities citing security concerns.
However, a statement after the meeting was released, saying the two sides had agreed to “further strengthen our economic, security and diplomatic cooperation”.
Jeed Basyouni, from the organisation Reprieve, said: “The UK government often says how proud it is of its partnership with Bahrain. So why is it slipping the Bahraini crown prince in through the back door without announcing the visit?
“The truth is, British government officials know that the Bahraini authorities systematically use torture and death sentences to suppress dissent, and in spite of this the UK provides generous support to the very bodies implicated in these abuses. This support is out of step with British values, and should be withdrawn until the Bahraini government stops using torture confessions to sentence political prisoners to death.”