New details of UK’s arms sales to repressive regimes condemned

June 28, 2021 - 19:46

New data shows the UK has made a nice profit over the past decade selling weapons to countries classified by London itself as having a dire record on human rights and civil liberties.

Between 2011-2020, the UK sold 16.8 billion pounds sterling worth of military equipment to 53 countries.

Two-thirds of whom (39 nations) have been condemned for a poor human rights record. Further research by the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) found that 11.8 billion pounds sterling worth of arms had been authorized by the UK government during the same period to the UK Foreign Ministry’s own list of nations that London acknowledges has human rights problems. These include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Libya.

Two-thirds of the countries – 21 out of 30 – are on the government’s list of repressive regimes. Another government branch, the Department for International Trade has also identified nations as ‘core markets’ for arms exports that campaigners say are guilty of many human rights abuses.

Downing Street has already admitted that Saudi Arabia is attacking Yemen using British-made weapons.

The UK has also supplied more than half of the warplanes used by Riyadh for its almost daily bombing raids. CAAT says ‘Right now, UK-made weapons are playing a devastating role in Yemen’. The group added that ‘The arms sales that are being pushed today could be used in atrocities and abuses for years to come’

In the future, the UK is likely to be affected by two major markets, namely the European Union’s tax free Single Market following Brexit and, amid rising tensions with Beijing, it could lose out on contracts with another major booming market; China. In order to restore its economy, badly hit by the coronavirus, more arms deals are expected in the near future in what has become a lucrative but ugly market where profit is put ahead of lives and human rights. CAAT says ‘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, 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 Boris Johnson and his colleagues’.

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