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Amnesty: UK enabling UAE to fund South Sudan conflict

An ammunition storage facility in South Sudan [United Nations Development/Flickr]
An ammunition storage facility in South Sudan [United Nations Development/Flickr]

A report released by Amnesty International yesterday has revealed that loopholes in UK regulations are allowing British companies to act as intermediaries for illicit international arms deals to South Sudan and other countries with poor human rights records.

Commercial documents name S-Profit Ltd, a small UK-registered company, as the “supplier” in a 2014 deal brokered between Ukraine and the UAE to provide at least $46 million worth of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to the South Sudanese government. South Sudan has seen ethnic violence for over four years in the country, but the UN failed to impose an arms embargo on the country during last year’s general assembly.

The report also reveals that the UK government has been aware of such practices taking place in Britain for over eight years, but has not taken any regulatory action against guilty businesses.

Despite clear and repeated warnings about the role of these companies in arms trafficking, there are still less checks required to set up a UK company than there are for you to join your local library

said Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International’s director for military, security and police.

“The UK has rightly championed the need for a comprehensive UN arms embargo on South Sudan to stop the flow of weapons that are responsible for catastrophic violence in the country. That a London-based company could have been involved in multimillion pound arms deal completely undermines that commitment,” he added.

Read: Sudan, S. Sudan make pact to work against US sanctions

South Sudan is not the only country to have been sold weaponry via the UK; Amnesty’s findings also show that a number of nonm-trading companies have been used to export weapons to Syria and Eritrea in recent years.

Although the UK has the legal power to stop such transactions, it has failed to do so on multiple occasions, allowing foreign governments such as the UAE to use the British legal system to facilitate dubious trade deals.

Diplomatic ties between the UK and the UAE have remained strong in recent years, despite the Gulf nation’s increasing disregard for human rights and UN conventions. Abu Dhabi has violated Arms Trade Treaties by exporting weaponry to Libya, Syria and Iraq, and according to the UN may be committing war crimes in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition.

The UK has also acted as a defence partner to the UAE, exporting some $470 million worth of arms to the country between 2012 and 2016, and according to the UK based NGO War on Want, trained Emirati security forces on covert surveillance technologies and public order training.

Read: Protests against UK arms sales to UAE at arms expo

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