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Issue #1678      March 25, 2015

Britain arms brutal regimes: report

Britain is continuing to arm some of the world’s most brutal regimes while hypocritically boasting of its commitment to human rights, a damning report has revealed. Ministers have repeatedly claimed that Britain has among the most rigorous arms exports controls in the world.

But the latest report from the influential parliamentary committee on arms export controls found that Britain continued to arm regimes with appalling human rights records including Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in 2014 despite them being officially listed as countries of concern.

The committee found that, in contrast to its public stance, the government had reversed decisions to provide greater public transparency and rewritten its own rules to smooth arms sales to blood-soaked regimes.

The committee stated: “There is an inherent conflict between strongly promoting arms exports to authoritarian regimes while strongly criticising their lack of human rights at the same time.

“The government should apply significantly more cautious judgements when considering arms export licence applications for goods to authoritarian regimes which might be used for internal repression.”

Amnesty International arms program director Oliver Sprague said: “In the year that international law tightening up the trade of arms came into force, the government has woefully failed to improve its monitoring and controls.

“It’s time for the government to be address these concerns if it wants to avoid accusations that it’s prepared to put profits before people lives.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith said: “What the report shows is that the government is still putting arms sales above human rights.”

“They are talking a lot about the importance of human rights but at the same time selling arms to some of the most brutal regimes in the world. These regimes are not just buying arms but also the silence and complicity of the British government.”

The committee also found that Britain had failed to implement the core provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty, repeatedly failed to police and enforce its own laws at British arms fairs and failed to close loopholes in laws to prohibit the trade in torture equipment.

Morning Star

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