05 Apr 11. Successive governments have misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression say Committees on Arms Export Controls.
“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”, says 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.
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, Mr 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. First Joint Report: Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual report 2009, Quarterly Reports for 2010, licensing policy and review of export control legislation (HC 686)
05 Apr 11. ARMS: HOUSE OF COMMONS COMMITTEE REPORT SLAMS GOVERNMENT FAILURES. NGOs call on Government to respond to report’s findings. The Government must urgently respond to calls for a thorough and transparent review of all arms export licences to the Middle East and North Africa, which were outlined in today’s report by the Committee on Arms Export Controls, warned the Control Arms Campaign Alliance (5 April). The Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) report includes a call for the review to be subjected to Parliamentary scrutiny. The warning came after the Control Arms Campaign – which includes Amnesty International, Oxfam and Saferworld — expressed concern about the Government’s internal review of arms export licences to Libya. This review, which is in response to recent revelations of UK arms export licences to countries in the Middle East including Libya and Bahrain, risks being hastily carried out without adequate consultation with all relevant experts.
Oxfam’s Head of Control Arms Campaign, Anna MacDonald said:
“This is a review about the export of deadly weapons, not toys or potatoes. The government needs to conduct this review with due care and consideration. It needs to be a thorough review and should not be rushed through. This is not a tick-box exercise. It has grave implications for the lives of people around the globe. As a global leader, the UK needs to ensure it does its utmost to get this right.”
The CAEC report also highlights how successive governments have failed to identify the risk of exporting weapons to countries such as Libya and Bahrain, where grave human rights violations have been committed and where there is a high risk of internal repression.
Amnesty International’s UK Arms Programme Directo