According to an Amnesty International report, the US, Russia and a number of European countries supplied large quantities of weapons to repressive governments in the Middle East and North Africa before this year’s uprisings.
The report says that these arms deals were signed despite evidence of a substantial risk that they could be used to commit serious human rights violations.
The human rights group reports that in the five years preceding the Arab spring $2.4bn worth of small arms, tear gas, armoured vehicles and other security equipment was sold to five specified countries that have faced or are facing popular uprisings – Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
And these sales were committed by at least 20 governments including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the US.
The Amnesty International report also says that existing arms export controls have failed to prevent the transfer of arms.
For more on this story, visit: Arms trade: Business before human rights? – Inside Story – Al Jazeera English.