Weapons that pass through under the radar

So we’ve blogged quite a lot recently about guns, tanks and other such weapons. And if you were following @newsfromamnesty, @amnestyuk, or @dontgetfooled yesterday no doubt you would have seen some rather interesting photographs of a tank hurtling its way through the streets of London.

As we saw yesterday, tanks – or self-propelled guns (as yesterday’s Abbot tank was later more accurately described) – are pretty hard things to conceal. They are very noticeable.  And judging by the amount of people whipping out their camera phones to take a snap of the tank in London suggests that they’re generally the kind of weapon which people pay attention to.

How then can it be so easy for tanks and other such military hardware to make its way to the world’s newest country and breach existing international and regional measures which attempt to restrict the transfer of such weapons?  That is the question which Amnesty experts have been posing today as we launch our new report looking at the steady flow of weapons making their way to South Sudan.

The report makes reference to the shipment or the transfer of at least 75 battle tanks which were delivered in three (obviously sizeable!) shipments from Ukraine via Kenya for the government of South Sudan. Also found in that shipment was a large quantity of other artillery, small arms and light weapons. These deliveries occurred between 2007 and 2009 and actually involved the use of UK and Isle of Man registered ‘shell’ companies.

Tanks weren't the only weapons being used in recent conflict in the region. As AFP points out Chinese-made anti-vehicle mines and Sudanese-made ammunition have also been used in the conflict.

What is clear is that weapons from literally all over the world can so easily find their way into the hands of governments and people who are using them to commit some of the worst human rights violations.

I’ve said it before, and I’m likely to be saying it a lot more over the course of the next month. The global arms trade is out of control.  As world leaders meet at the United Nations next month to thrash out an international Arms Trade Treaty, they need to make sure that no weapons are transferred where there’s a substantial risk that they’ll be used to commit human rights abuses.

Had an Arms Trade Treaty been in place already, I wonder what the picture in South Sudan would be like as they approach their first anniversary celebrations?  Find out more about the Arms Trade Treaty campaign here

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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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