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Thornberry: British-trained foreign troops may commit human rights abuses

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Countries where police and armed forces are trained by British forces could use their expertise to carry out human rights abuses, Labor warned.

Shadow International Trade Minister Emily Thornberry at the Labor Party’s annual meeting in Brighton promised equal control over the provision of training on arms sales under the Labor government.

She said this is not the case and the only control that applies to requests from foreign troops to train in the UK is an undisclosed internal risk assessment conducted by the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior.

However, she said neither the Ministry of Defense nor the Ministry of Home Affairs could confirm how many requests have been denied over the past five years.

At a temporary event on Monday, she said: There is no real difference between selling an attack aircraft to Saudi Arabia to attack civilians in Yemen and training Saudi pilots to fly it, she said.

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We will inevitably face a situation in which some of the training provided in the UK is used for human rights violations abroad, from the brutal repression of peaceful protesters to indiscriminate targeting of civilians in warfare.

Therefore, there should be no difference in the laws governing such decisions or the resulting transparency requirements.

Thornberry said it was no wonder the British military and police were considered the most skilled and professional in the world.

And she added. No wonder countries from all continents send their staff to the UK to learn from us.

She said there are benefits such as addressing the collective threat of terrorism and cybercrime and building international relations.

But there are unavoidable problems, she said.

If all countries are willing to learn from us, they will inevitably face situations where some of the training provided in the UK is being used for human rights violations abroad, from the brutal repression of peaceful protesters to indiscriminate targeting of civilians in warfare. .

Under the Labor government, she said: As with arms exports, it would be illegal for ministers to authorize military and police training if there were serious risks. , or external aggression.

Myanmar, which sent police officers to train in Britain, faces human rights abuses by protesters around the world (Aaron Chown/PA) / PA Wire

As with arms exports, the Minister’s decisions on training are issued quarterly, and, like arms exports, these decisions are scrutinized by Congress and challenged in court.

And most importantly, when I carry out the fundamental and branching reforms of the arms export system I promised here in Brighton in 2017, the changes to that system would apply equally to our training offerings.

In a report released alongside Thornberrys’ announcement, Labor said Saudi Arabia had undergone at least 141 military training courses since it launched its campaign in Yemen.

The report claimed that Cameroon, which began military operations against rebels within its own country, underwent a variety of courses, including combat training for a platoon commander, a course for an intelligence officer, and three advanced command courses for a senior officer.

Before the 2017 Rohingya genocide, Myanmar underwent five courses on how to uphold its human rights responsibilities, which Labor said it had demonstrated a false belief that training would improve the country’s behavior.

Thornberry said: Correctly modifying these rules will not affect the reputation or popularity of the education offered in the UK, but these lessons will always be used as a force for good. You must be governed by the law and protect innocent civilians around the world. We cannot help you do the opposite.

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