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Campaigners call for UK govt to halt training repressive states

Campaigners have called for the UK Government to halt police training programmes for repressive state forces, including in Sri Lanka, and conduct a review of all international training offered by the College of Policing.

Earlier this month, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said that since its founding in 2012, the College has provided training and assistance to at least 76 countries, including at least 12 countries that are listed as ‘human rights priority countries‘ by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, Colombia, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.

There are also a number of countries listed that have police forces that have been accused of torture but are not on the FCO list, many of which are also buyers of UK arms.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Many of these police forces have been accused of torture and other abuses. They use their power to uphold brutal and repressive laws. The UK should not be collaborating with them or strengthening their authoritarian rule.

The killing of George Floyd and the repression that followed drew international attention to state violence. But it is not just an issue in the United States, it is happening all across the world. There must be an end to the hypocrisy and a full review of which police forces the UK has trained and if they have been responsible for human rights abuses.”

Despite raising concerns about human rights in Sri Lanka, the UK continues to maintain its arms deals and military training engagements with the island.

Photo: Royal Air Force troops train Sri Lankan Air Force, October 2019 (RAF)

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