Up in arms

It’s always great to start the morning off on a positive note, it makes the day go so much better, I think.

So I was delighted when after my first hour in the office I heard that the Foreign Office had requested that five British residents being held in Guantánamo Bay should be returned to the UK. This is happy news, not only for the men and their families but also for Amnesty supporters who’ve taken action unfailingly for these men for years.

But let’s keep up the pressure to ensure that there are swift moves to return these men to the UK as soon as possible.

The other shocking news today is the Guardian’s front page as it reveals how the US has lost an arsenal of weapons in Iraq since the 2003 Iraqi invasion, including 110,000 AK-47s.

Amnesty raised concerns about missing weapons in Iraq back in May last year. Since then it asked the US Government to investigate this, and has also questioned why private contractors are involved in brokering and transporting arms to Iraq, some of whom are known to be arms traffickers.

How could governments be so lax in sending such large numbers of weapons to a place of chaos like Iraq, weapons that will only contribute to carnage and suffering for so many? That’s why effective international arms controls like the proposed Arms Trade Treaty are so necessary and urgent.

Today’s missing guns story coincides with a report out by the Quadripartite Select Committee which has stressed to the Government the need for more effective controls on arms exports. I agree that existing UK controls simply aren’t tight enough to manage a defence industry which is becoming more and more globalised.

Mark Thomas cleverly proved this last year when he and British and Irish schoolkids were able to set up fake arms companies and were able to get hold of torture equipment and other weapons because of lax export controls. If you ever get a chance to, check out this documentary, it’s incredible.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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