A freedom of information request revealed that a sub-group of the British police trained leadership officers in Brunei. Some of these officers may now be involved in implementing the country’s new anti-LGBTI laws.
The Guardian first revealed the transaction, in which the College of Policing, ‘an arm’s-length body of the Home Office’, was paid £151,000 ($196,814) to offer leadership training to Brunei officers.
According to the newly revealed information, the College of Policing trained eight officers between 2012 and 2016 over 235 days.
Some of these officers may now be charged with enforcing the country’s anti-LGBTI laws, including stoning people to death for being gay.
The Guardian also discovered gifts given to the college, which now says it will no longer provide training to Brunei officers following the implementation of this new law.
The College of Policing is a professional body of police in England and Wales. Since its creation in 2012, it has offered training overseas.
Their leadership programme is thusly described: ‘The philosophy of the programme is to provide rich opportunities for self-directed, personal and professional development in a stimulating and supportive team environment which mirrors the culture of a world-class “top team”.’
Responses to this unveiled relationship
Condemnation of Brunei’s law was swift.
Activists have responded to this information, and Britain’s involvement with training Brunei officers.
‘Even before the enactment of these new extremist Sharia laws, Brunei was a quasi-dictatorship without international standards of democracy and human rights,’ said Peter Tatchell, who runs the human rights organization the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
‘It is shocking to think that some of these officers may now be involved in enforcing the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery and insulting the prophet Mohammad. I’m surprised that the College of Policing has previously agreed to train Brunei police, given the country’s long-standing tyranny. Its decision to refuse such training in the future is welcome and long overdue.’
Benali Hamdache, the co-chair of LGBTIQA Greens, also weighed in.
‘The idea of training the police of a brutal regime like Brunei is horrifying,’ he said.
‘The College of Policing really must question its policies if it’s helping authoritarian regimes arrest, imprison and murder women, LGBT+ people and other minorities.’