FAO Newsdesks - Monday 29th March 2004
High Court to hear arms to Indonesia case against UK Government
The High Court will today consider whether to allow a legal challenge to the Government's arms to Indonesia policy to proceed.
A human rights activist from Aceh, Indonesia is challenging by judicial review the legality of the UK's supply of arms to Indonesia. Aguswandi claims the continued licensing of military exports to Indonesia breaks UK and EU export control guidelines which clearly state that export licences for weapons should be refused if there is a risk of the equipment being used for internal repression.
UK-supplied Hawk jets, Scorpion tanks and Saracen armoured personnel carriers have been used in Indonesia's current military offensive in Aceh, which has claimed over 3,000 lives since it began in May 2003. In August 2002, the Government relaxed the conditions under which licences to Indonesia were granted, allowing UK equipment to be used in Aceh.
The UK Government under Tony Blair has continued to license the sale of lethal equipment to the Indonesian military despite the repeated use by the Indonesian army of UK-supplied equipment against civilians in East Timor, Aceh, West Papua and other areas. Since 1997, when Labour came to power, the UK has delivered over £375 million worth of military equipment to Indonesia. Recently the financial value of military licences for Indonesia leapt from £2 million in 2000 to £41 million in 2002.
"It is vital that the High Court allows this action to proceed so that the UK Government can be held to account for its complicity in allowing UK equipment to be used in a brutal war in which hundreds of innocent lives have been lost," said Paul Barber on behalf of TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign and Campaign Against Arms Trade, who are supporting the legal action.
For more information contact:
Paul Barber (TAPOL) on 01420 80153 or 0776 180 8095
or the CAAT office on 020 7281 0297