Farron: Don’t train people from countries with bad human rights records at Sandhurst

Tim Farron has called on the Government to stop taking money from states with poor human rights records to train their military officers at the elite Sandhurst training college. He said to the Guardian:

These Sandhurst sheikhs are sitting in our military academies, learning from our best and then taking these things back to regimes that repress their population and trample all over human rights. People will look at this and think why are we selling weapons to Saudi, training Bahrainis and then sitting there while they oppress their population.

Shared military training with our allies is a fantastic resource, but it is time to stand up for the values we talk about so much – democracy and human rights. British forces provide some of the best military training in the world, but the privilege to train with our top class troops should be reserved to those foreign armed forces who share our values and our strict adherence to humanitarian law in combat. I believe we need to end to the training of overseas royals from regimes with terrible human rights records at Sandhurst.

The Minister seemed to miss the point in his reply, saying that it was good that overseas officers had British standards of training. But aren’t we then tarnished if those officers are part of a repressive regime?

The article gives an idea of where the officer cadets come from. For example, Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, is paying us £54000 to train a small number of officers.

There are also 14 cadets from Bahrain, which saw a particularly draconian approach to the Arab Spring and they continue to use excessive force and torture to quell dissent.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Evershed 23rd Jan '16 - 1:26pm

    Surely it is a wonderful opportunity to train officers from states with poor human rights records in the way to treat people correctly.

    It is perhaps the only way we can influence the people in such states. So to give it up would be a wasted opportunity.

  • Zoe O'connell 24th Jan '16 - 10:26am

    David – I agree, but the Army (I can’t speak for other branches of the armed forces) tends to be less liberal and more right wing. The place I’ve heard most vocal support for things like the death penalty has been out on exercise. We certainly gain influence with these states by training their officers, but I don’t think we make much difference on the human rights front with it.

  • Charles Lawley 25th Jan '16 - 3:17am

    I fully support this and hope Tim goes even further and cease all military co-operation with all nations, not just “gulf nations”, who abuse human rights.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Jan '17 - 10:21am

    If Italy were to seek extradition of any of these people if they come into UK jurisdiction the UK should co-operate. Chilean General Pinochet came to the UK during a Labour government in the UK.

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