British Arms Sale to Countries with Dubious HR Records as Bahrain Increases to £3 Billion
2016-06-03 - 3:05 ص
Bahrain Mirror: The Independent reported that "the UK arms sales to governments listed by the Foreign Office as having dubious human rights records has increased to £3 billion," noting that more than £3 billion of sales was licensed for export in 2015 to 21 of the Foreign Office's list of 30 "human rights priority countries".
The British daily added that the countries on the list are where "the worst, or greatest number of, human rights violations take place" or "where we judge the UK can make a real difference".
The newspaper listed a number of countries to which British companies sold weapons and military equipment, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Burundi. "According to documents shared with the Observer, only £170 million of arms sales were licensed to export in 2014 to 18 of the ‘priority list'", it added.
According to The Independent's analysis, "this massive increase last year has been attributed to sales to Saudi Arabia, including a £1.7 billion fighter jet deal licensed in May 2015 and a £990 million air-to-air missiles deal licensed in July 2015."
"These deals took place after Saudi Arabia started bombing targets in Yemen in March 2015. There are serious concerns civilian buildings in Yemen have been targeted," the Independent further stated.
This comes after the british paper revealed 16 of the priority list countries were being provided with training and military support by the UK since 2014.
According to the Ministry of Defence, British soldiers "have trained the armed forces of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Burundi, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe - despite the human rights records of those countries."
The Independent quoted the Ministry of Defence spokesman, who said "all training was delivered in line with the UK Government's Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance, ‘in order to mitigate the risk of contributing to human rights violations'." "The fundamental right of all humans to fair treatment is intrinsic to all British Military training activity," he stressed. "If there is credible evidence that our support is being misused, we will take immediate action."
However, the statements of the UK Defense Ministry spokesman lack credibility, as the relation between the two countries is strong. Britain knows the role of the Bahraini regime in cracking down on the 2011 uprising and it supports the regime. Moreover, Britain seeks to whitewash Bahrain's image and decrease the measures taken against it on the international level.
The Guardian had said in an article by journalist Jamie Doward that "Britain has been accused of waging a behind-the-scenes PR offensive aimed at neutering United Nations criticism of Bahrain for its human rights record, including the alleged use of torture by its security forces."
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