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THE British armed forces have provided military training for 17 countries listed by the Foreign Office as having abused human rights, it was revealed today.
Anti-arms campaigners called for the government to review its military collaboration and training with nations on the Foreign Office list of 30 “human-rights priority countries,” which has been ongoing since 2018.
The Foreign Office defines these as countries where it is “particularly concerned about human-rights issues” and believes Britain can make a difference.
States that received the training between 2018 and 2020 include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Israel and Uzbekistan.
Skill-sets being passed on included commando operations, amphibious warfare and guided weapons.
In Saudi Arabia, much of the training programme was linked to using British-made fighter jets that are being used in the war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s bombardment of the region has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The revelation was made following a recent parliamentary question by Labour MP Sam Tarry.
Campaign Against Arms Trade’s (CAAT) Andrew Smith said that many of the armies for the listed countries have “appalling” human-rights records and have been linked to “brutal oppression as well as international aggression.”
“By training and collaborating with despots, dictatorships, and human-rights abusers, Britain risks making itself complicit in the abuses that are being inflicted,” he warned.
“For far too long, successive governments have talked about the importance of human rights and democracy while arming, supporting, and strengthening authoritarian regimes across the world.
“There must be an end to the hypocrisy and a full review of which forces Britain has trained and if they have been linked to human-rights abuses.”
British armed forces have also been providing training for regimes with poor human-rights records not included on the list, such as Belarus, the Philippines, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
And Britain’s complicity in international human-rights breaches extends beyond military training.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, Britain has licenced at least £5.4 billion worth of arms to the Saudi Arabian regime.
The Court of Appeal ruled last year that the government had acted illegally when issuing licences without making an assessment on whether its uses amount to breaches of international humanitarian law.
The government continued to provide new licences despite the ban, claiming it was a mistake
And last month, the government revealed it will resume the sales, claiming that any rights abuses were “isolated incidents” despite the fact that hundreds of attacks on residential areas, schools, hospitals, civilian gatherings, and agricultural land and facilities have been documented.
British-licenced arms have also been used in countries like the United States, where police officers repeatedly fire tear-gas and rubber bullets at Black Lives Matter protesters.
The Foreign Office did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.
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