Britain sells arms to dictators

This video from Bahrain says about itself:

2011-03-14: A convoy of UK-made Saudi Arabian armoured personnel carriers arrives in Bahrain to aid the government’s brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests. The armoured vehicles, marketed as Tacticas, were manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems Division in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

This is not OK.

By Paddy McGuffin, Home Affairs Reporter in Britain:

British arms sale angers Amnesty

Thursday 31 March 2011

The latest Foreign Office human rights report reveals serious inconsistencies between the government’s granting of arms export licences and its claim to support human rights, campaigners stated today.

Amnesty International said the report showed policies facilitating arms sales to the Middle East and north Africa were at odds with Britain’s stated aims of upholding human rights and protecting civilians in the region.

It has emerged in recent weeks that the government granted export licences to sell millions of pounds of weapons to despotic regimes such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Bahrain.

Among items exported were “riot control” equipment, sniper rifles and shotguns which may have been used to suppress pro-democracy protests.

Armoured personnel carriers sold to the Saudi armed forces have been sent into Bahrain to prop up the regime there.

Amnesty International UK arms programme director Oliver Sprague said: “Licences should be rejected where there is a clear risk that equipment would be used in human rights abuses.

“Yet it seems, from this report, that actual evidence of equipment having already been used for abuse is often required before a licence is denied.

“This appears to change the policy from a risk-based to an evidence-based system – seriously weakening arms controls and making it easier for dangerous equipment to get into the hands of known human rights abusers.”

He said Amnesty had serious concerns about the role of “subjective and political criteria” influencing such important decisions.

“The review of the government’s export licensing regime must remedy this situation as a matter of urgency,” he concluded.

Sarah Waldron of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “If the government takes human rights as seriously as it claims it does, why was it providing arms to more than half of the countries identified in the report as ‘of concern’ on human rights?

“While one team of civil servants was writing this human rights report, another team was working with ministers to promote weapons sales to human rights abusers.”

Democracy or Dollars? Weapons Sales to the Arab World under Scrutiny: here.

German arms exports: here.

Saudi Women Inspired by Fall of Mubarak Step Up Equality Demand: here.

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