UK law bans all assistance to those involved in the cluster munitions trade and managing investments may be a criminal offence.

Paul McGowan

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition is using US-supplied cluster munitions in its airstrikes on Houthi forces in Yemen, Human Rights Watch reported. Targets include those close to villages, posing a threat from undetonated submunitions to civilians.

In recent weeks the coalition has used cluster bombs in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, a region bordering Saudi Ararbia, which is historically controlled by the rebels, HRW said.

“These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch.

Paul McGowan writing in the Guardian:

While our attention was turned to the British general election, Saudi Arabia was dropping cluster bombs on impoverished men, women and children in Yemen, according to Human Rights Watch.

What is this to do with us? After all, the UK signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, ratified it in UK law by the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Act of 2010, and completed the destruction of its own stockpile of cluster bombs in 2014.

This is a good record, and shows that it is perfectly possible to undo ties to armaments which we once thought we needed. Our connection with the latest violence, nevertheless, remains.

The weapons used in these attacks were sold to the Saudis by the US government and manufactured by the American firm Textron, which continues to receive investments from here in the UK, under the control of UK nationals working for pension funds and other financial bodies.

The UK law cited above bans all assistance to others involved in the cluster munitions trade. It is therefore possible that those managing such investments are party to a criminal offence.

And many more of us are implicated because, in the case of pension funds controlled by local authorities, the investments are made from council tax revenues.

So it is, in the West Midlands, that we council tax payers, to our shame, contribute about 25 pence each to the work of firms like Textron. That is all it takes to incinerate a child in Yemen.

Source: Guardian & HRW

20 May 2015

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