UK Sold Spyware to Honduran Regime Responsible for Mass Human Rights Abuses

The British government sold spying equipment worth more than £300,000 to the rightwing Honduras regime implicated in widespread human rights abuses.

The British government sold spying equipment worth more than £300,000 to the rightwing Honduras regime implicated in mass human rights abuses, including the assassination of high-profile environmental activist Berta Caceres.

The sale of the spyware came in the year preceding Honduras’s November 2017 presidential election, which widely seen as stolen by the incumbent government of Juan Orlando Hernández. Since the election the government has violently repressed protests against the fraudulent result, with at least 40 people killed, 2,000 detained and reports of a campaign of violent intimidation of activists by the country’s security forces.

In addition to the UK Conservative government licensing more than £300,000 worth of spying equipment under Standard Individual Export Licences (SIEL), in the same one year period leading up to November’s election, they have also licensed an unknown amount of other equipment including decrypting technology on two Open Export Licences (OIEL), according to UK government figures provided by the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The British government Department of International Trade (DIT) issues OIELs to select companies so that they can sell continuously to a nation. Significantly, under these licences the government does not disclose how much equipment was sold, but it is likely to be valued at significantly more than the £300,000 revealed so far.

Lloyd Russell Moyle, a Labour Member of Parliament who sits on the Commons committee for arms export control told Alborada:

‘The British government has sold Honduras monitoring and decrypting technology expressly designed to eavesdrop on its citizens, months before the state rounded up hundreds of people in a well orchestrated surveillance operation.’

He added: ‘British law is unambiguous. It says that the government cannot licence arms to nations that repress their own people.  Before the government licensed these weapons it knew that the security services of Honduras were killing environmentalists, gay people and anyone in general who disagreed with them with impunity. It knew that the country had no independent judiciary, and it knew that Honduras’s deadly prisons are filled with people who have not faced justice, and may of whom are unfree due to their political beliefs … I am not surprised the Tories don’t give a fig for human rights abroad but, as a new MP, I’m frankly astonished that the government so flagrantly breaks its own arms export law.’

The UK government’s Department of International Trade (DIT) was approached for comment on whether the British government can confirm whether any of the spyware sold has been used or implicated in human rights abuses or illegal activity by the Honduran government. A DIT spokesperson told Alborada:

‘The Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously operating one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world.’

They added: ‘Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of our licensing assessment.  We do not export equipment where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression, or would provoke or prolong conflict within a country, or would be used aggressively against another country.’

Human rights abuses in Honduras have been endemic ever since a 2009 US-backed coup overthrew democratically-elected leftwing president Manuel Zelaya and installed a repressive, pro-US government. The conservative National Party has been in power since January 2010 and their control of the country has been characterised by violence, impunity and corruption.

In March 2016 renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres was assassinated. The killing took place under the current regime of Juan Orlando Hernández and was reportedly planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces. The UK government’s licensing of spyware to Honduras took place despite Honduran military intelligence’s role in Berta Cáceres’ assassination and the countless other reports of killings and human rights abused committed by Honduran government security forces, who receive tens of millions of dollars in financing from the US government.

The Trump administration has recognised the fraudulent November presidential elections despite widespread calls, including from the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Congress to hold a new vote.

 

The British government sold spying equipment worth more than £300,000 to the rightwing Honduras regime implicated in widespread human rights abuses.

The British government sold spying equipment worth more than £300,000 to the rightwing Honduras regime implicated in mass human rights abuses, including the assassination of high-profile environmental activist Berta Caceres.

The sale of the spyware came in the year preceding Honduras’s November 2017 presidential election, which widely seen as stolen by the incumbent government of Juan Orlando Hernández. Since the election the government has violently repressed protests against the fraudulent result, with at least 40 people killed, 2,000 detained and reports of a campaign of violent intimidation of activists by the country’s security forces.

In addition to the UK Conservative government licensing more than £300,000 worth of spying equipment under Standard Individual Export Licences (SIEL), in the same one year period leading up to November’s election, they have also licensed an unknown amount of other equipment including decrypting technology on two Open Export Licences (OIEL), according to UK government figures provided by the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The British government Department of International Trade (DIT) issues OIELs to select companies so that they can sell continuously to a nation. Significantly, under these licences the government does not disclose how much equipment was sold, but it is likely to be valued at significantly more than the £300,000 revealed so far.

Lloyd Russell Moyle, a Labour Member of Parliament who sits on the Commons committee for arms export control told Alborada:

‘The British government has sold Honduras monitoring and decrypting technology expressly designed to eavesdrop on its citizens, months before the state rounded up hundreds of people in a well orchestrated surveillance operation.’

He added: ‘British law is unambiguous. It says that the government cannot licence arms to nations that repress their own people.  Before the government licensed these weapons it knew that the security services of Honduras were killing environmentalists, gay people and anyone in general who disagreed with them with impunity. It knew that the country had no independent judiciary, and it knew that Honduras’s deadly prisons are filled with people who have not faced justice, and may of whom are unfree due to their political beliefs … I am not surprised the Tories don’t give a fig for human rights abroad but, as a new MP, I’m frankly astonished that the government so flagrantly breaks its own arms export law.’

The UK government’s Department of International Trade (DIT) was approached for comment on whether the British government can confirm whether any of the spyware sold has been used or implicated in human rights abuses or illegal activity by the Honduran government. A DIT spokesperson told Alborada:

‘The Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously operating one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world.’

They added: ‘Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of our licensing assessment.  We do not export equipment where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression, or would provoke or prolong conflict within a country, or would be used aggressively against another country.’

Human rights abuses in Honduras have been endemic ever since a 2009 US-backed coup overthrew democratically-elected leftwing president Manuel Zelaya and installed a repressive, pro-US government. The conservative National Party has been in power since January 2010 and their control of the country has been characterised by violence, impunity and corruption.

In March 2016 renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres was assassinated. The killing took place under the current regime of Juan Orlando Hernández and was reportedly planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces. The UK government’s licensing of spyware to Honduras took place despite Honduran military intelligence’s role in Berta Cáceres’ assassination and the countless other reports of killings and human rights abused committed by Honduran government security forces, who receive tens of millions of dollars in financing from the US government.

The Trump administration has recognised the fraudulent November presidential elections despite widespread calls, including from the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Congress to hold a new vote.

 

2018-02-10T11:28:21+00:00 8/February/2018|Categories: Articles|Tags: , , , , |
Pablo Navarrete is co-editor of Alborada and Alborada magazine. Email: pablo@alborada.net. Twitter:@PabloNav1 www.alborada.net/pablonavarrete

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