'US missile sting': arms controls needed to protect civilians

They also called for the security services to show as much commitment to stopping arms deals that threaten civilians in poor countries, as they did to pulling off this arrest.

Rob Parker, Amnesty International UK Arms Campaigner said:

'This operation shows that where there is the political will, there is a way to stop arms getting into the hands of those who will use them to target innocent civilians. Sadly, double standards seem to be stopping the kind of resources used in this case being used to prevent other arms deals that put civilians at risk. Whoever pulls the trigger, and wherever the trigger is pulled, the human cost is equally horrific.'

Brendan Cox, Oxfam Spokesperson said:

'Terrorists are not the only armed threat to civilians. The equivalent of three Boeing 747's full of people lose their lives everyday to arms. If governments and security forces took the same approach to protecting all civilians, wherever they live, from the spread of weapons many more lives could be saved. These sort of deals happen regularly and fuel deadly conflicts across the world, it's tragic that it's only when westerners are involved that it attracts the full attention of the security services.'

Oxfam and Amnesty International are also seriously concerned that had this alleged deal not been linked to terrorism, the British arms dealer would have been protected from prosecution by gaping loopholes in British arms laws.

Brendan Cox, Oxfam spokesperson said:

'A prosecution in this case looks likely, but for many of the other cases we hear about, lax British arms laws allow the brokers to get away with selling arms that kill civilians. The government still has time to tighten up their laws, we urge them to do it before more deadly deals get done where the FBI isn't the buyer and the missiles aren't duds.'

Rob Parker, Amnesty International UK Arms Campaigner said:

'Even under the government's new laws British arms dealers can easily evade prosecution in the UK. There is no register of these dealers in lethal weapons and what's more they can avoid the scant regulation that will exist simply by hopping across the channel. This case shows the need for the government to urgently close the loopholes and stop unregulated arms dealing.'

Background

In its 2001 manifesto, the Labour Party promised to curb the activities of arms brokers and traffickers 'wherever they are located'. The Government has since announced that it does not intend to introduce controls on UK arms brokers operating outside the UK (except in the few cases where countries are subject to legally binding arms embargoes or where the brokers are dealing in weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles or torture equipment). The announcement of the final details of this legislation is expected in the autumn.

Further information

More about Amnesty International's campaign for tougher arms controls...

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