UK revokes arms export licences to Bahrain, Libya

Human Rights Groups said British equipment had been used in the unrest in Bahrain and Libya against protesters

UK revokes arms export licences to Bahrain, Libya

Britain said on Friday it was revoking more than 50 arms export licences for Bahrain and Libya where security forces have cracked down on protests and several people have been killed.

The revoked licences cover items such as tear gas and ammunition that could be used to suppress demonstrations.

A day after announcing a review of arms export licences to Bahrain, Britain's coalition government said it had "taken a decision to revoke 24 individual licences and 20 open licences" for the Gulf state.

Individual licences authorise a single arms sale while open licences cover multiple sales to a range of destinations.

The government also revoked eight individual licences for Libya. A review of export licences to the wider region, including Yemen, was continuing, it said.

Bahraini security forces fired on protesters on Friday, wounding more than 60, as crackdowns on pro-democracy unrest buffeting the Middle East and North Africa turned increasingly violent. A day earlier, police killed four protesters and wounded more than 230 in Bahrain's capital Manama.

In Libya, soldiers fought to suppress disturbances in the country's second city Benghazi. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said at least 24 protesters were killed there on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Bahrain and the events which have led to the deaths of several protesters," Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said in a statement announcing the decision to revoke arms export licences.

The Foreign Office said it had no evidence that British equipment had been used in the unrest in Bahrain.

But the government would not issue licences when there was a clear risk that the "proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or ... might be used to facilitate internal repression," it said.

The government announced a review of recent arms export licences for Bahrain on Thursday after opposition legislator Denis MacShane asked in parliament whether the government had approved the sale of teargas to Bahrain.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2011, 12:30
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