UK selling tear gas and rubber bullets to states it deems repressive – report

Riot police stand near an armoured personnel carrier after firing rubber bullets and tear gas inside al-Azhar University during clashes with the university's students, who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, in Cairo's Nasr City district, March 19, 2014. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah)

The UK has reportedly approved the sale of £16 million worth of anti-riot equipment, including tear gas and rubber bullets to countries on its own human-rights blacklist. Critics say the government is putting profits ahead of human rights.

According to a report by The Independent newspaper, exported crowd control and anti-riot equipment was used to suppress anti-government unrest in various countries, including Egypt and Hong Kong. It said the UK government has given the green light for export licenses worth £15.9 million ($24 million) since 2010.

Equipment such as riot shields and tear gas have been sent to more than 100 countries. While the majority of the gear has gone to nations with established democracies, countries with questionable human-rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Libya and Pakistan have also received equipment. Those countries feature on a Foreign Office ‘blacklist’ for so-called ‘countries of concern’ over the past five years.

The data was compiled by the anti-arms organization, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). It showed that £6.7 million ($10.1 million) had been received from nine countries on the UK’s blacklist, which included almost £3 million ($4.5 million) in tear gas to Saudi Arabia.

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