Dear Mr Sturdy,
Once again we have come to the time of the DSEI arms fair in London, which claims to be the largest arms fair in the world.
We know from previous DSEI arms fairs that illegal activity occurs within the arms fair including the sale of weapons that it is illegal to sell or promote. Examples include:
- 2005 DSEI: Tar Ideal (Israel) was advertising sale stun guns, stun batons and leg-irons on its stand. All these items specifically prohibited under 2004 legislation changes. Another company, Imperial Armour (South Africa) offered to discuss at this show to an undercover journalist, their product range of electro shock weapons.
- 2007 DSEI: BCB International Ltd (Wales) advertising a Taser electric dart device. Chinese firm Famous Glory Holdings were advertising leg-cuffs and a range of electroshock stun guns and stun batons. Indian company DRDO was advertising an artillery rocket system that fired a variety of munitions including anti-personnel landmines.
- 2009 DSEI: Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) in its product catalogue was displaying a 155 mm cluster bomb artillery shell. The specific munitions were called the 155mm Base Bleed DP-ICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) which was made illegal under 2008 revisions to UK export control law.
- 2011 DSEi: Beechwood Equipment (UK) was advertising illegal restraint devices including leg irons, belly, body and gang chains made by US company CTS. It was a full colour brochure available to pick up on the counter and was extremely prominent on the display. Pakistan Ordnance Factory: – The same 155mm cluster bomb artillery shell Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO) of Pakistan was also displaying the Pakistan Ordnance Factory 155 mm cluster munitions. Nammo Talley included references to cluster munitions in their literature.
- DSEi 2013: MyWay International Trading company was promoting the sale of leg irons and electric stun batons and MagForce International were promoting the sale of electric stun guns and leg Irons.
None of these were detected by the police – they were all found by members of civil society including investigators, journalists and even an MP. Even when the offences were discovered no action was taken by the police against any of the individuals or companies involved. As Mr Justice Hamilton put it in his verdict on 18 April 2016:
“[T]he court has been presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from three experts that criminal wrongdoing had occurred at past DSEI exhibitions involving the sale of arms to countries which then used those arms against civilian populations and the sale of items that were inherently unlawful such as cluster munitions and items designed for torture and inappropriate restraint. There was, as a result, a compelling inference that such activities would also take place at the 2015 DSEI exhibition.
“The court was also presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence that such criminal activities are not being properly investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.”
We thus have clear evidence of criminality at DSEI and of police inaction.
On top of this, the government has invited countries that are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity to buy new weapons that will be used to commit further crimes. Amongst countries that even the government admits have dire human rights records that have been invited are:
- Pakistan and
- Saudi Arabia.
There are plenty of others that have been invited which have also been using weapons to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity including:
- Philippines and
Instead the police have been making it hard for protestors, with a record number of arrests this year for trying to prevent this obscene illegality.
I am writing to urge you to write to the Department for International Trade to stop supporting the arms fair and instead to promote peaceful industry and to the home office to require the police to investigate crimes being carried out or facilitated at DSEI.
4 Frazer Court
4 Frazer Court