UK: Lax weapons laws helped arm PC's killer, say campaigners

These organisations, who together form the Control Arms campaign, understand from sources close to the investigation that the gun used, a Croatian made HS-95 9mm Automatic pistol, was part of a batch of over two thousand weapons, licensed for export from Croatia using fictitious paperwork and front companies.

Confidential documents passed to the organisations appear to show that 2,750 weapons, manufactured by the Croatian company IM-METAL, were licensed for sale from Croatia to 'front' companies based in the United States, British Virgin Islands and Nigeria. However, these companies were reportedly not the true recipients of these weapons and investigators believe they are now in the hands of criminal networks in Western Europe.

Anna Macdonald, Oxfam's Director of Campaigns said:

'The case highlights the complete lack of controls on the international Arms, now reaping devastating local consequences not just in the war zones of Africa but also on the streets of Britain. Arms such as these are fueling conflict, crime and misery all over the planet at an alarming rate. Governments must now work to control the deadly trade behind this killing and sign up to an international Arms Treaty'.

If governments had adopted the Arms Treaty, it would have helped stop these weapons being sold in the first place. The Treaty would make it illegal to export weapons used to fuel armed crime. It would place obligations on all countries to ensure that weapons are not sold using false or misleading paperwork and that all recipients of arms are legitimate end-users. Without these controls, rogue arms dealers will continue to supply weapons easily to war zones, repressive regimes and to criminals in Britain.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Countless murders are happening every day with illegal guns like the one used to kill PC Broadhurst. That more than 2,500 guns from this consignment are still in circulation is deeply worrying.

'Controls over theArms are so lax that these weapons were sold without any adequate checks. How many more killings do we need for governments to wake up to their responsibilities to control this trade? We want an election manifestocommitment that the UK will support a legally-binding Arms Treaty.'

IANSA Director Rebecca Peters said:

'Handguns are designed for the sole and specific purpose of killing human beings. Britain has banned handguns within its borders, but the lack of international controls means that other countries are undermining the British law. The UK government should use its influence to pressure other countries to sign up to the Arms Treaty.'

Campaigners are calling on all governments to declare their support for the Arms Treaty. In September 2004, the UK government joined many other governments, including Finland, Mali, Kenya, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Cambodia, in pledging its support for the Treaty.

More about our campaign to control arms

Background

Documents show that the HS95 pistol used to murder PC Broadhurst, was part of a consignment of 500 guns licensed for export on 17 September 1998 to a US company using bogus export documentation.

To date, investigators say that only 146 guns from these shipments of 2750 have been recovered by police forces in the UK, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Spain, France and Belgium following offences ranging from murder to armed robbery.

According to Small Arms Survey:

  • Guns kill at least 200,000 people in non-war situations, including homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Worldwide guns are used in 40% of all murders.
  • There are approximately 640 million guns in circulation - one for every ten people.
  • Around eight million new guns are made every year.
  • Small arms are produced by 1249 companies in more than 90 countries. In some of these countries trade controls are almost non-existent.
  • Only three countries in the world (Nigeria, Latvia and South Africa) have a policy of destroying all surplus or confiscated weapons. There are well-documented cases of sold-off weapons ending up in the hands of criminals and rebels.
  • On average, around one million guns are lost or stolen every year.
  • Hundreds of thousands of guns are lost by state forces every year. Iraq was the most extreme example, when millions of weapons were looted in 2003. At least 650,000 tons of weaponry and explosives were captured by US and Allied forces from abandoned military depots across Iraq, but these were barely guarded and much was looted.

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