UK military ties with Libya, Somalia and Burma must have human rights safeguards

Amnesty international has warned that any new military ties between the UK and Libya, Somalia and Burma must only be established if there are “comprehensive safeguards” against human rights abuses.

The UK’s “International Defence Engagement Strategy”, announced today by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, outlines a 20-year non-combat strategy with first examples to include “establishing a Defence Attaché and Defence Section in the British Embassy in Burma”, “closer work with Libya including advice to train its military, especially its Navy and Air Force”, and “plans to open a new Defence Section in the new British Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia”.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The military in Libya, Somalia and Burma are all synonymous with human rights abuses and the UK’s closeness to them must not come at the cost of turning a blind eye to potential future abuses. 

“Comprehensive human rights safeguards should be built into the International Defence Engagement Strategy so that the UK does not become complicit in the wrongdoing of overseas armies.

“The UK should treat the link-ups as opportunities to help improve human rights in these countries, and not just as trading or strategic ventures.

“Moves like this are a reminder of why we need a strong international Arms treaty agreed at the UN this year - to ensure that arms, internal security equipment, technology and training is not traded around the globe without robust rules or proper monitoring.”

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