Scotland: Graveyard created outside Scottish Parliament as new report reveals the Arms is out of control

Seventy gravestones have been placed outside the Scottish Parliament today (10 May) to signify the number of people lost to small arms around the world every two hours. At the same time Amnesty International publishes details of a network of arms transporters and brokers - including UK-based companies - fuelling the world’s bloodiest conflicts.

The Scottish Parliament’s International Development Group will also be hosting a special meeting on Control Arms today (10 May) to be addressed by Mick North, father of a Dunblane victim and gun control campaigner, along with representatives from Amnesty International and Oxfam. Mick North will give a Scottish perspective on the need for a global Arms treaty.

The gravestone stunt has been arranged by the Edinburgh Amnesty groups. Mike Reed, an Amnesty member from Edinburgh said:
“It makes me so angry to see these awful conflicts on the news, knowing that the guns are there just because someone’s making a quick profit from it. Sometimes it feels like we’re just picking up the pieces. We’ve got to do something to stop the weapons getting into the wrong hands in the first place.”

The new report, Dead on Time - arms transportation, brokering and the threat to human rights, from Amnesty International and TransArms, reveals the involvement of arms brokers and transporters from the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Balkans, China, Israel, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the USA. It shows how arms brokers and transporters now deliver hundreds of thousands of tonnes of weapons around the world - with an ever-greater proportion going to developing countries where they have fed some of the most brutal conflicts. Weak and outdated arms controls are failing to stop brokers and transporters from fuelling massive human rights abuse around the world.

Amnesty International Scotland’s Programme Director Rosemary Burnett said:
“The Arms is out of control and costing hundreds of thousands of lives every year. The UK has a real chance to do something about it when the UN meets in June – and we want MSPs and the Scottish Parliament to show its support for the campaign.

“Arms brokers and transporters have helped deliver the weapons used to kill and rape civilians in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet only 35 states have laws to regulate brokers. Countries need to get tough on the dealers and transporters of weapons. And we need an Arms Treaty to bring the whole industry under control, and stop weapons being sold to human rights abusers.”

In its report, Amnesty International makes a series of specific recommendations for robust and strictly enforced arms controls based on consistent international laws including:

  • An international Arms Treaty to provide global standards for the Arms; this would form the basis of an international protocol to regulate arms brokering and transport agents;
  • Immediate establishment of specific national laws, regulations and administrative procedures to prevent arms brokering, logistics and transport activities contributing to gross human rights violations;
  • Making violations of UN arms embargoes a criminal offence in all states and in the case of serious violations, a crime with universal jurisdiction;
  • Stepping up international donor aid to enhance customs and other law enforcement control of cargo movements.

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