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Amnesty Decries G8's Arms Sale to Nigeria, Others
Published on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 by This Day (Lagos, Nigeria)
Amnesty Decries G8's Arms Sale to Nigeria, Others
by Luke Oyawiri with Agency Reports

Human rights body, Amnesty International (AI), has criticized the G-8 countries including the United States of America, the Russian Federation, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Canada, for selling arms to Nigeria and other developing countries, involved in human rights abuses.

Amnesty said the arms purchased by these developing countries are used by their governments against their people.

In a statement, the human rights body noted that "weak national control of the international transfer of 'conventional' arms and security equipment contributes to the persistence of gross human rights violations.

"Of all the states with inadequate laws and administrative procedures to manage the export, transit and import of such arms - of which there are very many - none are more conspicuous than those states running the world's largest industrialized economies - the Group of Eight," the human rights group stated.

Amnesty International revealed that in recent years, the US government had frequently hired or authorized private military consultants to train foreign police forces and military troops.

According to a detailed scholarly study, US companies trained military forces in more than 24 countries during the 1990s.

The list of the beneficiary countries includes Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Kosovo, Peru, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda and Nigeria.

Amnesty also revealed that Russia had recently supplied helicopters to Nigeria.

Amnesty International noted that Nigerian security forces continued to use excessive force in response to protests against oil company activities and in 2000 were allegedly responsible for large-scale killings of civilians in Benue State.

"No independent investigations were carried out into allegations in connection with these incidents, or into other killings by the security forces since the return to civilian rule in May 1999," the statement read.

Amnesty also said that the Nigerian security forces had in their inventory Beretta M12 sub-machine guns and Beretta M951 9mm pistols which they obviously got from members of the G8 group.

In response, the G8 proposed to "support efforts by African countries and the United Nations (UN) to better regulate the activities of arms brokers and traffickers and to eliminate the flow of illicit weapons to and within Africa.

"These efforts are to include (i) developing and adopting common guidelines to prevent the illegal supply of arms to Africa; (ii) providing assistance in regional trans-border co-operation to this end, and (iii) supporting African efforts to eliminate and remove antipersonnel mines.

But Amnesty International stated that the 2002 G8 Summit's Action Plan for Africa failed to recognize the responsibility of the G8 governments themselves for the sale and transfer of arms to African countries, including by dealers, brokers and transport agents who are nationals and residents of the G8 countries.

It said that the Action Plan rather included a call for African nations to regulate illicit arms sales. The G8 proposed international guidelines and border co-operation for dealing with the massive suffering and destruction caused by the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Africa.

"But these measures are clearly not enough. In response to direct threats to their own states, the G8 Summit agreed to a 'global partnership to prevent terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction'. This included a set of tough principles, a host of practical measures, and a $20 billion budget to stem nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons. Yet no similar partnership was offered to Africa to curb small arms and associated military items," the body stated.

According to studies conducted, Amnesty said that the governments of the G8 nations authorized unparalleled levels of arms and related assistance to the world's armed forces and law enforcement agencies, but also to "those who persistently commit gross human rights violations - equipping them, emboldening them and rewarding them".

At least two thirds of all global arms transfers in the years 1997-2001 came from five members of the G8.

The top supplier of weapons to the world was the US, accounting for 28 per cent of global arms transfers. Second in line was Russia, with 17 per cent. Third was France at 10 per cent, followed by Britain at 7 per cent and then Germany with 5 per cent.

Amnesty said that, for 25 years, US law had stipulated that weapons should be kept out of the hands of governments that will use them to abuse human rights.

"Yet US commercial arms sales have frequently had the opposite effect. US arms sales directed to developing countries have quadrupled from 2000 to 2001, many of them with forces that persistently abuse human rights. In addition, US military aid is currently furnished to more than 30 countries identified by the US itself as having a "poor" human rights record, or worse," Amnesty reported.

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