The British House of Commons says in retrospect it regrets UK arms exports to Sri Lanka during the fragile ceasefire period and suggests that the UK government should take a `longer term view about unstable countries` when exporting arms as where the weapons end up and how they would be used become important.
A report, released today (March 30) by the Committee on Arms Export Controls of the British House of Commons welcomed the review and subsequent revocation of nine extant licenses for military exports to Sri Lanka.
The report says the UK government revoked a number of extant export licenses `in the light of changed circumstances.` The licenses were for replacement components for military utility helicopters and military telecommunications equipment.
Ian Lucas MP, the Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, has confirmed in last December that all licenses, from 2004 had been reviewed and the UK government had not supplied any helicopters or airframes to the Sri Lankan Air Force.
The UK however, had supplied helicopter components for Sri Lankan transport helicopters and the Minister has said that based on the available information during the final stages of the conflict, Sri Lanka has used those helicopters for medical evacuation, logistical support, re-supply and other humanitarian purposes.
The Minister has told the Committee that the final offensive raised `grave concerns` for human rights and after review, the licenses were revoked.
Minister of State for the FCO has told the Committee that UK had been concerned about the Sri Lankan situation `for quite a long period of time`, and, as such have been `very cautious`.
Although the evidence and information from Sri Lanka was `very patchy`, the Minister has explained that the nine licenses revoked during July and August 2009, were a consequence of the review undertaken by the UK government, and an example of lessons learnt following consideration of the conflict situation in Sri Lanka, the Committee noted in their report.