The British Foreign office has denied reports that Britain had sold millions of pounds of weapons to the Sri Lankan military last year.
British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said that a majority of the export licences approved, including those for small arms, were for private security companies countering piracy in the region.
“UK hasn’t approved exports of small arms to the Sri Lankan military,” Burt tweeted yesterday.
The British media had said that small arms weaponry, ammunition and various other military equipment were among millions of pounds’ worth of goods exported last year from Britain to Sri Lanka under licences for arms and other closely regulated exports.
The media reports said that statistics taken from the British government’s own database for strategic export controls show items ranging from assault rifles and shotguns through to weapons sights, pistols and ammunition were sold last year to the South Asian nation’s government, which has been accused of extensive human rights violations in relation to its treatment of its Tamil minority and the suppression of armed separatists, who have also been accused of abuses.
More than £2m worth of sales last year fell into the “ML1″ category – which is used by the government to denote small arms and weapons – according to figures scraped from the government’s database for strategic export controls by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).