The UK government has approved more than 3,000 export licences for military sales to countries which it believes have questionable records on human rights, MPs say, the BBC reports.
According to the BBC report; The House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls says the value of the existing export licences to the 27 countries in question exceeds £12bn. This includes significant sales to China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Sales to Sri Lanka raise “very serious questions”, the report adds.
The chairman, Conservative MP Sir John Stanley, said he was astonished at the scale and value of the licences.
Arms licences to Sri Lanka included pistols, small arms ammunition and approval for the sale of 600 assault rifles, which he said “raised very serious questions”.
The report concludes: “Whilst the promotion of arms exports and the upholding of human rights are both legitimate government policies, the government would do well to acknowledge that there is an inherent conflict between strongly promoting arms exports to authoritarian regimes whilst strongly criticising their lack of human rights at the same time, rather than claiming, as the government continues to do, that these two policies ‘are mutually reinforcing’.”