CAAT Welcomes Committee Recommendations for Prior Scrutiny of Arms Licensing

Government Criticised for Breach of Criteria on Arms Exports

Campaign Against Arms Trade today welcomed the recommendations set out by the Quadrapartite Committee’s second report on Strategic Export Controls. For the first time the committee has made recommendations for prior parliamentary scrutiny of licence signing for arms exports which would allow for greater transparency and accountability.

Rachel Harford of CAAT said: ‘We welcome the Committee’s proposals for prior parliamentary scrutiny, but also feel that for a fully informed and public debate, it is essential that all licence information is publicly available. The public and parliamentarians have the right to have their representations on licence signing taken into account.

The Committee is highly critical of the Government’s handling of the arms to Zimbabwe affair, stating categorically that the decision to grant licences for spares for Hawks constituted a breach of the UK’s national criteria on arms exports. CAAT supports the Committee’s findings on the Government’s position.

Rachel Harford of CAAT said: The way in which the Government dealt with arms to Zimbabwe situation was shameful. The government effectively enabled Zimbabwe to continue its military campaign by providing components for the Hawks, thereby breaking its own criteria on arms sales. It was complicit in the massacres and repression in the Congo.

She continued: Such disgraceful actions were compounded as the eventual revocation of the licences for spares gave the lie to the excuses given for the Government’s refusal to revoke licences for Hawks to Indonesia in 1997.

CAAT is encouraged by the Committee’s call for a stricter interpretation for the embargo on arms to China. Licences for arms to China last year amounted to £42m and included radar equipment, military electronics, military explosives and ammunition. China is a regular attendee to UK arms fairs and a delegation this year visited BAE Systems Warton site. Whilst the current UK embargo includes military aircraft and helicopters, a delegation has also been invited to Farnborough International, the air show which has a large military component.


Contact Rachel Harford on 020 7281 0297 or 0958 449 006

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