UK exports arms to Sri Lanka despite widespread rights violations..British Royal Navy to send frigate to Libya to boost defense sales
Assault rifles, shotguns and pistols worth over $3.8 million were revealed to be among the goods the UK has exported to Sri Lanka – a country accused of repeated human rights violations by the UN, and London itself.
The export report for the second half of 2012, published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, revealed that small arms and ammunition were sold to Sri Lanka last year. According to the report, more than $3.8 million in sales in 2012 fell into the ‘ML1’ category, which stands for small arms and weapons, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said.
The arms sales are made despite reports by British authorities on human rights violations committed in the South Asian country. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently said that that Sri Lanka’s human rights record was marked by negative developments over the last 3 months, “especially in relation to the judiciary.”
A Department for Business Innovation and Skills spokesperson told the Guardian such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis: “Each assessment we make takes into account the intended end use of the equipment, the behavior of the end user, the risk of diversion and the prevailing circumstances in the country concerned. We pay particular attention to allegations of human rights abuses.”
News of the arms exports to Sri Lanka has prompted controversy in the UK press. Several major newspapers published critical articles on the matter. “We shouted loudest over Sri Lanka’s abuses. Three years on and we’re arming the regime,” Jerome Taylor of The Independent wrote.
Amid an undeclared arms race among European defense contractors to reequip Libya’s armed forces, Britain is sending a Royal Navy war ship to Tripoli to act as a floating show room for security firms.
A British government agency, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is organizing an arms fair on a Royal Navy frigate, which will dock in Tripoli, Libya at the beginning of April.
UKTI has so far refused to disclose exactly what businesses will be there and what gear they will be showcasing.
“There is a scramble among European arms firms to sell to Libya with the Italians and French leading the way. In 2001 before the imposition of the arms embargo, EU countries had approved licenses to Libya worth 34 million euro,”Kaye Stearman, Media Co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told RT.
UKTI describes the event on its website as “an opportunity for UK defense and security to promote equipment and services to the Libyan navy aboard a Royal Navy vessel in Tripoli” and that it hoped to “attract key senior military personal from the Libyan government”.
A UN arms embargo is still in place and with the UK Foreign Office describing Libya as a “country of concern” with regard to its human rights abuses; Britain is restricted in terms of what it can sell. Sir John Stanley, who chairs the committees of arms export control, has said he expects the government to adhere to the criteria of arms export licenses.
UKTI has said that no weapons will be offered for sale and the Libyans will be offered specialist equipment for port security, such as inflatable dinghies or uniforms.
However, Stearman believes that the sale of arms is the ultimate priority of the event.
“When an arms company takes part in an arms fair or exhibition, it is with the expectation of sales, and it is hard to believe that the only equipment on sale will relate to security,” she said.
The exhibition appears to be part of a wider policy by the UK government of a strategy to foster relations with countries where Britain has security and business interests.
the warmongers..profiteering from arms sales..all over the world..they dont want peace..there is to much money to be made from war..and that ship is a floating showroom for weapons..makes you sick..