*** DEBUG END ***

Call for writing-off ‘dictators’debts’

16 November 2012


On parade: the Legion of Veterans of the Republic of Indonesia, in Surabaya, com­memorate Heroes Day, on 11 November, with re-enactments of a battle against the Allies in 1945

On parade: the Legion of Veterans of the Republic of Indonesia, in Surabaya, com­memorate Heroes Day, on 11 November, with re-enactments of a battle...

MANY of the millions of pounds of debt owed to the UK by developing countries were originally borrowed by repressive regimes to pay for British-made arms, new government statistics suggest.

The highest borrower, Indonesia, spent almost three-quarters of loans totalling £853 million on defence equipment. Much of this money was used by the dictator General Suharto to buy tanks and aircraft. The former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook later admitted that some of the British arms were used to quash civilian uprisings in East Timor.

Another heavy borrower, Argentina, spent almost 40 per cent of British loans on military hardware, including weapons later used in the Falkland Islands invasion.

Figures released on Monday by UK Export Finance, the government department that manages foreign debt, show that Britain is owed nearly £1 billion by 20 countries. The figures do not include loans already repaid.

"They reveal a past history of horrendous loans to dictators," Tim Jones, the policy officer at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, which is pressing for a write-off of the debt of developing countries, said. "People in these countries should not have to pay these unjust debts. . . We have been calling for a long time for an audit into this debt. The release of these figures is a step forward, and something the Government has previously said could not be done. We're now pushing them to hold a full audit, where the details of each project are released. . .

"Vince Cable should implement Liberal Democrat policy and hold a full audit into these debts, to find out what the real impact of the projects was in the countries concerned. The Government should then cancel all those debts that are unjust, which did not benefit the people who are now repaying them.

The loans include £5 million lent to Saddam Hussein, and £12 million used by Zimbabwe to buy Land Rovers, which, Amnesty International later said, were used in attacks against opposition activists.

In his annual speech at the Guildhall, on Monday, the Prime Minister said that he made "no apology" for helping Britain's defence industry sell abroad. During an export drive in the Gulf last week, he was criticised for backing sales to states in the region that have poor human-rights records. But he insisted that Britain had the toughest rules on arms exports in the world.


Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)