Weapons exported to South Sudan in a deal allegedly brokered by a British company could be used against UK troops who have been deployed to the war-torn country as part of a UN mission, Amnesty International has warned.
The Department for International Trade is investigating whether the deal, which has been brought to light by Amnesty International, constitutes a breach of British arms export controls.
An EU arms embargo has been in force against South Sudan since its independence in 2011, while Britain has been one of the leading proponents for the establishment of a UN arms embargo.
However, documents leaked to Amnesty name a British company registered to an address near Covent Garden in London, S-Profit Ltd, as being among the commercial players in what would constitute one of the largest single arms deals that South Sudan has entered into since the outbreak of major civil conflict in December 2013.
In response to Amnesty’s claims, S-Profit’s director denied that the company has supplied military product to South Sudan but was silent on whether it had played any kind of intermediary role.
The weapons form part of a previously undisclosed 2014 contract between a Ukrainian state arms company and a UAE-based company to procure $169m (£126m) of weapons on behalf of the South Sudanese government. These include thousands of machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition.
Amnesty claims that the involvement of a British company in such a deal could violate UK export controls that prohibit involvement in the supply of weapons to South Sudan, where the conflict is now in its fourth year with about 3.8 million people having been driven from their homes. The violence was described earlier this year by the international development secretary, Priti Patel, as genocide.
Oliver Feeley-Sprague, programme director for Amnesty UK’s work on arms controls, said: “It is undeniable that huge arms deals such as these are also a…