Craig Whittaker MP denies that the UK government invited human rights-abusing regimes to London to shop for weapons at the Defence & Security Equipment International arms fair, held in September.
This is despite the fact that nine invited delegations are on the Foreign Office list of countries with
the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns – Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. 14 others are recognised as authoritarian regimes, such as Bahrain.
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said:
Considering the current situation in the Middle East, it is time for governments which claim to respect human rights and democracy to stop supplying arms to governments such as Bahrain, which is committing rampant human rights violations on a daily basis. Inviting Bahrain to the arms fair can also be construed as offering support for the crackdown and sending a message of business as usual.
Despite the evidence, Mr Whittaker says the UK government only invites foreign governments after
“…a stringent process of scrutiny and approval” where “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are mandatory considerations…”