25 June 2014
Saudi Arabia and Egypt among UK’s largest arms markets despite human rights violations
Last year, the British government approved the export of GBP 1.6bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which makes the Saudi market the UK’s biggest arms market. The export of GBP 51m worth of arms to Egypt has also been approved by the United Kingdom. These figures derive from government reports and were assembled by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), which estimates that last year the UK approved the export of in total GBP 2bn worth of weapons to oppressive governments.
Saudi Arabia is listed by the UK Foreign Office as a ‘country of concern’, not least for violating the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. With regard to Egypt, on 23 June the Guardian reported that hundreds of Egyptians have disappeared and are being tortured in secret military prisons.
Andrew Smith of CAAT stated that ‘when the UK sells weapons to oppressive governments then it is not just giving them military support, it also gives them political support and the UK’s explicit endorsement’.