Successive governments have misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression says Committee on Arms Export Controls.
The Committees on Arms Export Controls in the first overseas affairs Select Committee Report since the start of the uprisings in January in North Africa and the Middle East comment that
“Both the present Government and its predecessor misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression”
The Chair of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, Sir John Stanley, says
“This is a ground-breaking report as far as Parliament and the public are concerned. For the first time, the committees have produced, in Annex 4 of our Report, country by country examples of export licence approvals since January 2009 of arms that could be used for internal repression by authoritarian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East.”
The Committees on Arms Export Controls comprises the Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development Select Committees.
John Stanley goes on to say:
“The committees have also detailed in paragraph 134 of the Report the arms export licence revocations that the Government has made since January 2011, vigorously back-pedalling on arms exports that had previously been approved. The committees welcome these revocations of arms export licences to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain but their number, 156 by the time the Committees concluded their Report, reflects the degree of policy misjudgement that has occurred.”
The committees end their Report recommending that the Government extends immediately its review of UK arms export licences to North Africa and the Middle East, announced by the FCO Minister, Alistair Burt, on 18 February 2011, to authoritarian regimes worldwide in respect of arms or components of arms which could be used for internal repression.