The UK government is still selling weapons to most of the countries with dire human rights records, a new report shows.
The report by Freedom House, a human rights group funded by US government, reveals that over the past decade the UK licensed some￡16.8 billion (US$23.32 billion) of arms to countries that it lists as “not free.”
Freedom House suggests the UK sold arms and military equipment to at least 39 of the 53 countries it has criticized as having a poor record on political and human rights.
#Libya is one of the main buyers and has received ￡9.3 million of assault rifles, military vehicle components and ammunition. The country is currently struggling with a civil war involving various terrorist groups and militias backed by different countries.
A separate repeat by the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (#CAAT) shows that London also tends to ignore the guidelines set by the the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which has its own own list of “human rights priority countries.”
According to the group, at least￡11.8 billion of arms sales has been authorized by the British government during the same period to 21 out of 30 repressive countries on the list.
Top customers include Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, #Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey – nine countries the British Department for International Trade has identified as “core markets” for arms exports. All of these countries are guilty of many human rights abuses.
“Right now, UK-made weapons are playing a devastating role in Yemen and around the world. The arms sales that are being pushed today could be used in atrocities and abuses for years to come,” CAAT head of media Andrew Smith said.
“Wherever there is oppression and conflict there will always be arms companies trying to profit from it, and complicit governments helping them to do so,” Smith said.
“Many of these sales are going to despots, dictatorships and human rights abusing regimes. They haven’t happened by accident. None of these arms sales would have been possible without the direct support of [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and his colleagues,” Smith added.
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