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Foreign Office Minister comments on arms exports to Bahrain

"In light of events we are today formally reviewing recent licensing decisions for exports to Bahrain," said Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speaking today, the Minister said:

“This government takes extremely seriously its arms export responsibilities and we have one of the most rigorous licensing regimes in the world. All export licence applications are scrutinised against the Consolidated EU and UK export licensing criteria and in the light of prevailing circumstances.

“We closely consider allegations of human rights abuses. We will not authorise any exports which, we assess, might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, which might be used to facilitate internal repression, or which would in any other way be contrary to the Criteria.

“In light of events we are today formally reviewing recent licensing decisions for exports to Bahrain. We will urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the Criteria.

“In the last nine months we have approved a range of licences for Bahrain. These include two single export licences for 250 tear gas cartridges to the Bahrain Defence Force and National Security Agency that were for trial/evaluation purposes.

“In addition there are a number of open individual export licences that have been approved. One of these includes equipment that can be used for riot control. The approval of these applications were judged to be consistent with the criteria at the time and followed precedents set by previous governments. As with all export licences for Bahrain, these are being urgently reviewed.”

Earlier Foreign Secretary William Hague set out this position in the House of Commons when commenting on recent events in Bahrain.

Published 17 February 2011