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Petition Suspend future sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to the USA

In line with the suspension of future sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong, a decision made by the current Government, can the Government commit to the same course of action in light of the current situation in America.

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In June 2019 the UK suspended future sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong until an investigation into the alleged police brutality and human rights abuses had been held. The foreign secretary said no new export licences would be granted until concerns of human rights abuses had been "thoroughly addressed". Can the government commit to upholding the same scrutiny and investigations into the alleged human rights abuses in the USA.

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 June 2020

HM Government has been sorry to see the violence that has taken place in the United States of America and will continue to monitor developments very closely.

The export of tear gas and certain crowd control equipment is subject to the issuing of an export licence. HM Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world.

We rigorously examine each export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. This, of course, applies to our exports to the United States of America.

All export licence applications are carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria; https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/wmstext/140325m0001.htm (“the Consolidated Criteria”), taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application, including the prevailing circumstances in the recipient country. In making our assessments, we draw on a wide range of relevant available information, including reports from Non-Governmental Organisations and our overseas network.

HM Government will not license the export of equipment where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria. This includes making sure that there is respect for rights and responsibilities where equipment is being exported.

We are able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require, and this is done in line with the Consolidated Criteria. We have suspended or revoked licences when our assessment has changed, which shows how seriously we take the guiding principle of responsible export controls.

HM Government may also take more restrictive export licensing positions, taking into account the wider foreign policy context and issues in question. Alongside assessments against the Criteria, this was the case for Hong Kong in June last year, when the then Foreign Secretary made his statement.

We are sorry to have seen the violence that has taken place and continue to monitor developments in the United States of America closely. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that America remains a beacon for freedom, opportunity, democracy and openness.

Department for International Trade

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Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.

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