Indonesia arms deal is test case for policy
The report, published by the Saferworld foundation, proposes two new guidelines. Licences should not be granted for any equipment that might be used for internal repression and there should be a "presumption to deny" exports to countries of "concern" such as Indonesia, unless a legitimate defence requirement can clearly be demonstrated. Instead of the Department of Trade and Industry having to prove that a country had used equipment against its own people in order to get a licence stopped, the onus would be on the country concerned to prove it really needed the arms for defence against an external aggressor.
In Indonesia's case, the report says all licences for the export of armoured personnel carriers, riot-control equipment and small arms - items which can be used in an "internal security" role - should be refused. And it recommends that the British government holds a fresh inquiry into reports that British Aerospace Hawk aircraft have been used against rebels in East Timor. British Aerospace sources have told The Independent that they have not been used in this way, and do not have the range to reach East Timor from their current bases in Sumatra and Java.
In that case, said Andy McLean, a Saferworld spokes-man, neither the British nor Indonesian governments need have anything to fear from an open inquiry.
The Indonesian Air Force has so far taken delivery of 40 BAe Hawks - jet trainers which can also be used as attack aircraft. In 1996 a further 16 Hawk 200 aircraft were ordered, but no licence appears to have been issued so far.
The Labour Party is keen to encourage the British aircraft industry, and Lord Hollick, a Labour peer and BAe board member, is influential in the party. But even if the export licence for Hawks is approved, the second element of the test case - Alvis armoured vehicles - is less likely to be approved. Indonesia has already taken delivery of 30 Scorpion-90 light tanks and 20 Stormer armoured personnel carriers, and a licence for a further 50 armoured vehicles was granted in December last year. The third stage of the order - for 22 or 23 vehicles - is expected shortly.
Given Indonesia's geographical position, vehicles of this type are most useful for small-scale fighting against insurgents. British armoured vehicles supplied in the Sixties were used against protesters in April 1996. The British government has received assurances that British-supplied defence equipment will not be used for internal repression in East Timor or Indonesia, and, in the case of the Scorpion 90s, has been given an additional assurance that they would not be used in East Timor. But there were reports that they were deployed for security in Jakarta during last year's general election.
8 British Arms Export Policy and Indonesia, Malcolm Chalmers; Saferworld, London; pounds 8.00.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...