15. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Zac Goldsmith meets Local Campaigners against the Arms Trade in Parliament

Zac Goldsmith meets Traknat at Portcullis House to discuss regulation of the international arms tradeLocal arms trade campaigners, representing a number of local groups including Amnesty, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the United Nations Association, Kingston Peace Council, and the Green Party, met with Zac Goldsmith MP at Portcullis House, Parliament on Monday [13 May 2013]. They urged the MP to call upon Vince Cable’s Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) department to do more to regulate the shady world of arms brokers.

Amnesty member and Richmond resident John Hatto said: “BIS issues licences to arms dealers to broker unlimited quantities of deadly weapons, including small arms, to some of the most repressive regimes in the world. We want Vince Cable’s department to clean up its act, create a public register of brokers and stop giving arms dealers free rein to broker as many weapons as they like.” John went on to say: “We were encouraged by Zac’s willingness to take up this issue directly with Ministers.”

Campaigners explained that the UK Government promotes weapons sales to some of the world’s most repressive regimes. The Government co-sponsors the world’s biggest arms fair, held biennially in the Docklands. To its shame BIS invites delegations from countries identified by the Foreign Office as having ‘the most serious human rights concerns.’ Zac reacted positively when asked to call upon the Government to be more open about its process for inviting delegates and to publish the criteria by which it selects them, as well as publishing a full delegate list in advance of the arms fair.

Over the last 10 years there has been a threefold increase in weapons sales to many developing countries in real terms. For example over one third of the world’s poorest people live India and Pakistan yet their Governments spend nearly 20% of their budgets on the military, but only 3-4% on health. Military spending dwarfs aid budgets. The group explained: “BIS does not even follow its own criteria for promoting weapons to developing countries. Both David Cameron and Vince Cable have been on weapons promotion tours of developing countries.” John Hatto said: “We call on Zac to ask the Government for a full review of its promotion of weapons to developing countries.”

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