A report by the British House of Commons, released today, has concluded that that the review and subsequent revocation of nine extant licenses for exports to Sri Lanka is to be welcomed and regretted that arms were exported to Sri Lanka during ceasefire periods.
The report by a select committee of members of the House of Commons, available on the House of Commons website and to be released to the British Parliament today, notes that in evidence to the Committee in January 2010, the Minister of State for the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) had said that the UK Government had been concerned about the Sri Lankan situation “for quite a long period of time”, and, as such have been “very cautious”.
The report says that although the evidence and information from Sri Lanka was “very patchy”, the Minister explained that the nine licenses revoked during July and August 2009, were a consequence of the review undertaken by the UK Government, and an example of lessons learnt following consideration of the conflict situation in Sri Lanka.
Mr David Hall, Deputy Head, Counter Proliferation Department, FCO, confirmed that the evidence of what has happened in the past was taken into account in the risk assessments that are made in the future, the report said.
Taking into consideration all the evidence at hand the report by the British House of Commons further concludes that the UK Government should take a longer term view about unstable countries, and further appraisal is required where the peace is fragile.
UK arms exports have ended up in places that Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2010) 7 were contrary to UK policy in the case of Israel, and in the case of Sri Lanka, arms were exported during ceasefire periods, which, in retrospect was regrettable, the report said. (Daily Mirror online)