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Stop Arming Israel: legal challenge launched - Email your MP

Categories: Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 13/10/2014 | Views: 1623
This month UK-made tear gas was turned on democracy protesters in Hong Kong, but the government has not stopped the sales From Israel to Hong Kong, the UK's arms export controls system is broken. We have to change the game. The government's own rules state that it should not allow weapons to be sold where there is a significant risk that they might be used for internal repression or in violation of international humanitarian law.

Yet this summer, the government refused to cancel any arms export licences to Israel – even after admitting that at least 12 were for equipment that might be being used in the devastating attacks on Gaza.  Last week UK-made tear gas was turned on democracy protesters in Hong Kong – but Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond commented that it was 'immaterial' that the tear gas was from the UK and refused to rule out further exports. The government should never have granted licences for these sales in the first place – but its failure to cancel them after evidence of their use represents a new low.

If we want to end UK complicity in human rights violations and conflict we have to challenge this. This week CAAT has instructed our lawyers to begin legal action against the Department for Business over the government's failure to Stop Arming Israel. We need your help to challenge it in Parliament too.  All too often the UK's policy has been at best a policy of "arms control by embarrassment." We have seen this with the UK's arms sales to Bahrain, Libya, Saudi Arabia and many other repressive regimes around the world.

The UK supplies weapons with little regard for the record of the buyer and only revokes licences at times of crisis when it is already too late. Now, in the case of Israel and Hong Kong, even this has failed. In July, Parliament's Committees on Arms Export Controls reported that "the Government's arms export policy is essentially one of reacting to events and not taking sufficient account of the nature of the regimes concerned at the point when the decision is made to approve the export licence or not." The Committees are working on a new report now.

Please help build parliamentary pressure for a fundamental re-evaluation of the UK's approach to arms sales by emailing your MP today

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