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20 February 2011  |     mail this article   |     print   |    |  The Guardian
British government approved sale of crowd control equipment to Libya

Foreign Office figures show export licences were valued at more than £200m over the first nine months of last year

By Richard Norton-Taylor

The British government has approved the sale to Libya of a wide range of equipment for use against civilians, including teargas and "crowd control ammunition", official reports show.

Export licences increased significantly and were valued at more than £200m over the first nine months of last year, according to the latest figures compiled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for the Foreign Office.

The FCO said on Sunday night it had since revoked eight licences for riot control equipment. However, equipment listed as cleared for export to Libya last year include "teargas/irritant ammunition" and "training teargas/irritant ammunition", "military cameras" and components for "surveillance equipment and targeting equipment".

Other items cleared for supply to Libya were "accessories" for military small arms training, and technology for "military communications equipment", small arms ammunition, weapon sights, sniper rifles, "command and control vehicles", radio jamming equipment and what is described as "civil explosive detection/identification equipment". Also listed as cleared for export to Libya is "command communications control and intelligence equipment".

Official UK guidelines say the government will "not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression". Whitehall officials say decisions are taken on a "case by case" basis.

The FCO's latest annual human rights report says Britain has negotiated with Libya a memorandum of understanding over deporting individuals and has set up training programmes for Libyan police forces "to use modern evidence-gathering techniques, which meet proper judicial standards".

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