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Labour government refused to sell guns to repressive regime

26 February 2011

The Wikileaks cables reveal that the UK Government refused a US$60M export licence for assault rifles, heavy machine guns, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters to be exported to Swaziland in 2008.

The Swaziland government is dues to spend 10% of its budget on police and the army and has, in recent years has used force to viciously subdue internal dissent. ACTSA says, “King Mswati III rules a population of just over one million people by authoritarian means; political and civic activists are threatened and imprisoned. There is less political freedom than in Zimbabwe.”

Official UK Government documents show that there was enough worry that the arms would be used by the government of Swaziland against its own people. For that reason, the last Labour Government refused the licence; an action that was exactly right.

“We are pleased that the British Government blocked this shipment of arms to Swaziland. We hope they did not get the arms from anywhere else.  The Swazi government has an appalling record of crushing dissent. For a country enduring a major financial crisis, where 70 per cent of the population live in absolute poverty, it can not be right for a government to prioritise repression over tackling poverty and supporting democracy.”

Tony Dykes, Director of ACTSA

The principle that values come before profit is an important one and one that we at LCID will be working hard to ensure the current Conservative-led Government respects.

You can find out more about this story on the ACTSA website.

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