Arms exports: Human rights still under threat from lax arms controls

Responding to the findings of the Select Committees on Arms Export Controls’ report Amnesty International's Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said:

"We welcome the Select Committees’ call upon the UK Government to tighten arms export controls.

“Serious problems remain with UK arms export controls that need to be addressed quickly – otherwise a small but significant number of UK weapons and components will continue being used to commit grievous human rights abuses around the world.

"Amnesty is particularly concerned that the government has still not closed the loopholes relating to the overseas production, assembly and re-export of UK-supplied equipment, including non-military items which can then be sent to countries where they are used to kill civilians or abuse human rights.

"The Government saw these dangers four years ago after Land Rover components were transferred to Turkey, which then assembled them into military vehicles which ended up being used to crackdown on peaceful protestors in Uzbekistan in 2005. Despite promises to close this loophole, four years later, the government has made no significant progress. By refusing to address this, the government is continuing to allow the trade in flat-pack killing machines.

"Such lax controls remain a serious threat not only to civilians but also to our own soldiers, as components that are used to create Improvised Explosive Devices – the bombs which are regularly used to attack British and American soldiers – can slip through this loophole as well.”

Amnesty continues to campaign for a robust and effective international Arms Treaty – new international legislation which would help stop arms exports which risk being used to commit human rights violations. The Select Committee praised the government for its efforts to establish an International Arms Treaty.

Oliver Sprague continued:

“An international Arms Treaty with human rights at its core would play a major role in stopping the deadly flow of weapons to human rights violators. What is essential is that the UK Government does not seek to water down this treaty. It must remain a robust, effective and tough piece of legislation in order for it to have real impact on people’s lives. Anything less would be a real and dangerous step backward.”

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