Amnesty Spain, FundiPau, Greenpeace and Oxfam Intermón demand an arms embargo to the parties in the conflict in Yemen and more control and transparency in the next legislature
The joint report Licences to kill? released by Amnesty International, Greenpeace, FundiPau and Oxfam Intermón on the Spanish arms exports in the first semester of 2015 reveals weaknesses in the Spanish arms exports control system. It includes recommendations to strengthen control and transparency. The NGOs highlight exports of concern including arms exported to the Saudi coalition operating in Yemen, to Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel or Pakistan, whereby there is a clear risk that they could be used to commit serious violations of International law. NGOs will continue to monitor the strict implementation of Spanish law and the Arms Trade Treaty.
In the first semester of 2015, Spanish arms exports were worth over 1,800 million €, a 15.8% increase compared to the average exports in the 2012-2015 period. Authorised arms exports were worth over 1,678 million €, a 9.1% increase compared to the average exports in the 2012-2015 period.
Nearly a third of Spanish arms exports in the first semester of 2015 was destined to the countries of the Saudi-led coalition operating in the war in Yemen since March 2015. In this period, Spain exported to the Saudi coalition 560 million € worth of arms including aircraft, munitions, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles.
Over 3,000 civilians, including at least 700 children, have been killed in Yemen and at least 2.5 million people haven been displaced from their homes since the conflict began in March 2015. At least 83% of the population needs humanitarian aid.
“We have documented 32 airstrikes including airstrikes that targeted places like hospitals, schools, markets and mosques, which amount to war crimes”, says Esteban Beltrán, Director de Amnesty International Spain, who calls for “an arms embargo to all parties in the conflict in Yemen”.
“We will continue to monitor that the government complies with the Arms Trade Treaty, which it ratified in 2014, and which prevents arms sales for atrocities” says José María Vera, Director of Oxfam Intermón, who calls for ”an investigation into whether Spanish arms have been used in the conflict in Yemen for alleged war crimes”.
“We call on the political parties and the government to, after the upcoming general election, take measures to strengthen the arms exports control system and improve the level of transparency of the details published by the government, and no longer consider secret the minutes of the arms exports licensing body”, says Mario Rodríguez, Director de of Greenpeace Spain.
Jordi Armadans, Director de FundiPau, urges the incoming government “not to authorise the export of five corvettes to Saudi Arabia, to be built by Navantia pending the signature of a contract, as long as there remains a substantial risk that they would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international law”.
The NGO report identifies 13 operations of particular concern, including sales of munitions and bombs to Saudi Arabia; small arms and munitions to the Armed Forces of Brazil; munitions, airplanes and bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles to Colombia; ground vehicles, airplanes, spare parts and different equipment and systems to Egypt; munitions and bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles to the Armed Forces of Iraq; tear gas hand grenades and self-defence sprays to the police in Tunisia, armoured vehicles, aircraft and different equipment to Pakistan and several types of arms to Israel.
In the face of the new general election and a new legislature, eight and a half years after the enactment of Act 53/2007 on arms exports and in the face of the constant increase of these exports in the last decade, the NGOs recommend the government and parliamentary groups to improve the arms exports control system and transparency.
In particular, the NGOs call for the strict compliance with the 2007 Spanish Act on the arms trade and the Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force in 2014, and other international standards, improving the quality and level of detail of the information published, the risk assessment of the operations and the end use and end-user monitoring of the arms exported, and strengthening parliamentary control, allocating the Defence Committee in Congress a prior parliamentary control in the operations of concern.
Between 2012 and the first semester of 2015, arms exports authorized by the Spanish government were worth 18,503 million € and the figure of exports carried out was over 11,527.4 million €, thus consolidating the upward trend of Spanish arms in the last decade.
- According to SIPRI, between 2011 and 2015, Spain was the seventh global exporter of major weapons, with 5 % of the total volume.
- The 14 other operations of potential concern on which it is necessary to have further details include sales to:
– The countries of the Saudi coalition operating in Yemen, the destination of almost a third of Spanish arms exports in the period analysed, including the export of several types of arms to the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Qatar likely to be used in the Yemeni conflict.
– USA, the main importer of Spanish hunting and sporting guns, worth 1.9 million €, and importer of small arms and light weapons, munitions, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles, ground vehicles, aircraft and electronic equipment, despite State statutes on the use of lethal force being far too permissive and the risk of the arms exported being used to commit crimes.
– Hunting and sporting guns to Ghana, due to the risk of diversion, and Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, affected by high levels of armed violence.