UK's arms deals with Sri Lanka revealed

The British government is selling millions of pounds worth of small arms and ammunition to Sri Lanka despite the country's dire human rights record, a report has claimed.

Figures taken from the UK government's own database showed how the authorities in Colombo have gone on a buying spree of British small arms and weaponry worth at least 3 million pounds.

According to the Independent, some of the items sold to Sri Lanka include pistols, rifles, assault rifles, body armour and combat shotguns.

This comes despite the Foreign Office still classifying Sri Lanka as a "country of concern" for rights abuses.

The sales indicate how far President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has been welcomed back into the international fold by Britain, despite the behaviour of his armed forces during the brutal last few months of the 2009 civil war, the paper said.

The figures on Britain's most recent arms sales come from the Government's own Export Controls Organisation, which releases quarterly figures.

They reveal that in the three months between July and September last year, the UK approved export licences worth 3.741million pounds, of which just over three million pounds were military items.

The paper said that over two million pounds of the sales came under the "ML1" label - a category used by the Government to denote small arms and weapons.

Export licences were granted on four separate occasions - once in July and three times in August. In total the Government approved the sale of 600 assault rifles, 650 rifles, 100 pistols and 50 combat shotguns, the paper asid.

The sales also included 330,000 pounds-worth of ammunition and 655,000 pounds in body armour, the paper added.

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