SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- A former British defense secretary has slammed the UK’s arms sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, saying they are using British weapons to suppress civilians.
According to a report published in the Guardian on Saturday, Sir John Stanley, who chairs the Commons committees on arms export controls, made the comments in a parliamentary debate on October 30.
During the debate Stanly said the British government had failed to come clean on a “significant change in policy” on arms sales to “countries of concern”.
According to recent figures, the British government sold over 95 million dollars (60 million pounds) worth of arms to these countries in 2014.
“The Government should apply significantly more cautious judgments when considering arms export license applications for goods to authoritarian regimes, which might be used for internal repression,” added Stanley.
UK legislation dictates that international arms sales must be on the basis of defensive purposes, but recent information shows the buyers use the arms for suppressing civilians.
“There is a clear policy in the legislation that arms should only be sold to countries for defensive purposes and not for internal suppression or external aggression. In the case of Gaza over the summer, that has clearly been flouted. Bahrain is another example,” said Former Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain, who established the strict criteria on arms sales.
Recent figures, supplied by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, show that during the first half of 2014, Britain issued arms sales licenses to 18 of the 28 states on its official blacklist, among which are Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Central African Republic and Sri Lanka.
“The present government has run a coach and horses through our arms export controls, circumventing the legislation we put in place by putting a particular spin on it. It has enabled them to sell arms to countries and for purposes that should not be allowed under the legislation,” added Hain.