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Sun 4 Dec 2011 11:19 AM

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Bahrain brings in ex-Brit, US cops in police overhaul

Former London Met officer John Yates latest recruit by Gulf state after rights probe

Bahrain brings in ex-Brit, US cops in police overhaul
Former Metropolitan Police Service officer John Yates will reportedly oversee police reforms in the Gulf state

Bahrain has hired John Yates, who resigned from his senior
post at the Metropolitan Police Service earlier this year over a newspaper
phone hacking scanda
l, to oversee reform of the Gulf Arab state's police force,
the Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday.

Bahrain appointed the former
Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the force's top
counter-terrorism officer, after an independent inquiry found evidence of
systematic rights abuses during a crackdown on pro-democracy protests earlier
this year.

"Bahrain's police have some big challenges ahead, not
dissimilar to those the UK itself faced only a couple of decades ago,"
Yates was quoted by the paper as saying.

Members of the kingdom's Shi'ite Muslim majority have staged
numerous demonstrations against alleged discrimination by their Sunni rulers.

The tiny island state was the target of international
criticism for imposing martial law during a violent crackdown on protests.

The Bahraini government said earlier this week it planned to
hire John Timoney
, a former police chief in the US state of Florida, as part of
a reform drive it says is aimed at protecting rights and freedoms while
enforcing order.

Bahrain has said it will comply with the findings of the
and plans to develop a code of conduct for police. It is under pressure
from its ally the United States to improve its rights record in order to secure
an arms sale.

Rights activists have said senior figures should be sacked
over the abuses listed in the inquiry's report, which appeared to be more
hard-hitting than some in government had expected.

It said torture was used to extract confessions that were
used to convict hundreds of people in military courts, mainly Shi'ites. It
described the abuse as "systematic," and said some 3,000 people were
detained and 2,000 sacked from state jobs.

Yates resigned in July over his role in a police
investigation into the alleged illegal accessing of voicemails by journalists
at the now defunct News of the World newspaper.

He had in 2009 decided not to
re-open investigations into the practice, but a new probe launched in January
found police had 11,000 pages of evidence which had not been thoroughly
examined by detectives.