US and UK Failing To Monitor Flood of Arms Into Iraq, Amnesty Warns

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The Guardian/UK

US and UK Failing To Monitor Flood of Arms Into Iraq, Amnesty Warns

by
Richard Norton-Taylor

These weapons were seized in Eritrea, but give a sense of the enormous number of small arms and weapons that infiltrate war zones. Iraq is being flooded with weapons despite human rights violations by all parties in the conflict there, and without any proper monitoring by the US and Britain over where the weapons end up, Amnesty International says today.

Iraq is being flooded with
weapons despite human rights violations by all parties in the conflict
there, and without any proper monitoring by the US and Britain over
where the weapons end up, Amnesty International says today.

There
is no clear accountable audit trail for some 360,000 small arms
supplied to the Iraqi security forces, many by the US and UK, it says.
Subcontracting makes the arms trade even less transparent. Among
examples cited by Amnesty are the supply of 63,800 Kalashnikov assault
rifles from Bosnia to Iraq and the dispatch via the UK of thousands of
Italian Beretta pistols, many of which ended up in the hands of
al-Qaida insurgents in Iraq.

"The easy availability of small arms
and lack of accountability in Iraq has contributed to sectarian
killings by armed groups, as well as torture and other ill-treatment;
extra-judicial executions by Iraqi government forces and the continuing
arbitrary detention of thousands of suspects by Iraqi soldiers backed
by US armed forces since 2003," says Amnesty.

It adds: "Very
serious failures have occurred in the effective management of huge
quantities of weapons and munitions supplied to Iraq since 2003. While
Iraqi officials ... have been primarily responsible, a significant
share of the responsibility rests with the US and UK coalition forces
and their contractors."

According to US state department figures
this week, Iraq has signed more than $3bn worth of arms deals in the
past two years. Amnesty estimates that more than 1m small arms have
been sold to Iraq since the 2003 invasion and the Iraqi government
plans to procure more than 250,000 from the US and China.

This
trade would have been controlled, and the supply of weapons pouring
into other conflict zones - notably Burma and Darfur in Sudan -
prevented had an arms trade treaty been in place, Amnesty says.

Weapons
are flowing into Darfur despite a UN embargo, it says in a 125-page
report, Blood at the Crossroads, which sets out the case for a robust
arms trade treaty due to be discussed at the UN next month. It says
that on February 19 this year, two Chinese Fantan fighter jets were
used in an attack on Beybey in Darfur and three large bombs were
dropped on a settlement killing eight people, including children. The
aircraft had recently been serviced by Chinese technicians and their
Sudanese pilots allegedly trained in China to fly them.

Russia
has agreed to supply 27 helicopters to Sudan, says Amnesty. Last year,
Sudan listed its main arms suppliers as China, Russia, North Korea,
Belarus, Indonesia, Iran and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, countries
including China, Russia, Ukraine and Serbia have been providing huge
quantities of arms to Burma despite human rights violations said by the
UN to be widespread and systematic. UN arms embargoes continue to be
flouted in Ivory Coast and Somalia, while arms supplies to Colombia,
Guatemala, Guinea, Chad and Uganda show the "catastrophic human rights
consequences of unrestrained arms trading", Amnesty says.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Kate
Allen, Amnesty International's UK director, said: "Next month's
decision at the UN is crucial. Governments around the world cannot go
on ignoring the untold suffering and dreadful abuses caused by
irresponsible global arms transfers. World leaders have to uphold their
obligations on human rights and to move forward on an international
arms trade treaty which is underpinned by the 'golden rule' on human
rights."

Amnesty describes the golden rule as countries
undertaking not to approve the supply of "conventional weapons,
munitions, military equipment or assistance, where there is a
substantial risk that such items will be used for serious violations of
international human rights".

Last week, David Miliband, the
foreign secretary, committed himself to pressing for an effective
treaty, Amnesty says. But the proposal is opposed by countries such as
China while others, including India, Pakistan and the US, are
attempting to block, delay or dilute the plans, which would allow the
trade in arms to continue unchecked, Amnesty says.

 

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