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Britain Backs Out of $9 Million Saudi Arabia Prison Deal

  • VOA News

FILE - British Prime Minister David Cameron as he speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, Latvia. Cameron declared Sunday July 19, 2015 that Britain needs to take a greater role in destroying the Isla

FILE - British Prime Minister David Cameron as he speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, Latvia. Cameron declared Sunday July 19, 2015 that Britain needs to take a greater role in destroying the Isla

Britain has pulled out of a controversial multimillion-dollar deal to provide training for Saudi Arabia's prison system.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Britain had withdrawn its bid to provide "training needs analysis" following concerns raised within the government.

The $9 million contract was to be fulfilled by Just Solutions International, a commercial offshoot of Britain's Ministry of Justice that was shut down in September.

The deal was strongly opposed by opposition Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who called it "unacceptable in the 21st century."

"We should be sending a strong message to repressive regimes that the U.K. is a beacon for human rights," Corbyn said.

Prioritize, domestic reforms

A Cameron spokesperson said the decision "reflects what is the best way to prioritize what we want to do at the Ministry of Justice, the domestic reforms we want to carry out."

The spokeswoman would not say the decision to cancel the deal was linked to Saudi Arabia's human rights record or the case of 74-year-old Briton Karl Andrew, who was sentenced to a year in prison and 350 lashes for being caught with homemade wine.

The spokeswoman said however that Andrew's sentencing was "very concerning" and that Cameron was writing to Saudi authorities on the case.

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