APSN Banner

Government faces legal challenge over licences for arms to Indonesia

TAPOL Press Release - February 13, 1997

One year on from the Scott Report, three organisations are threatening to take the Government to court for arming one of the world's most repressive .regimes, Indonesia. They have obtained unique photographic evidence which proves that the Government is breaching its own policies on arms exports and human rights. They have given the Government the deadIine of 21 February before they seek leave for a judicial review.

TAPOL - the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, Campaign Against Arms Trade and the World Development Movement - maintain that the Government has continued to sign licences for more arms, despite publicly admitting that UK-made arms are being used for repressive purposes in Indonesia.

In a letter to lan Lang MP, President of the Board of Trade, they state: 'Much of this evidence was available to you when you decided to grant these licences....In the circumstances, the granting of these licences is irrational and unlawful.' Editors Footnote 1

* The Government admitted that on 24 April 1996, UK-made armoured vehicles were used in Ujungpandang against students involved in a peaceful demonstration, resulting in three deaths and many injuries

* 1n June 1996 UK-made water cannon were photographed when they were used against peacefu1 demonstrators commemorating the deaths in Ujungpandang.

* Photographic evidence also exists of UK equipment being used repressively in Jakarta to stop peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.

The organisations are calling on the Government to cancel export licences signed by the President of the Board of Trade, for weapons to Indonesia, including AIvis armoured vehicles and Tactica Water cannon. (Editors Footnote 2). If the Government fails to cancel the licences by 21 February, the three organisations will seek a judicial review.

Carmel Budiardjo on behalf of the three organisations said: 'A year on from the Scott Report the Government's arms export controls remain unchanged. The Government is blatantly breaking its own arms export and human rights policies by arming Indonesia. We are determined to seek justice in the courts if the Government does not cancel the current licences for arms to Indonesia.'

Notes for editors:

1. On 9 December 1996 the DT! issued export licences to Coventry-based Alvis for an =A380 million contract for 50 Scorpion armoured vehicles, plus associated equipment. Licences were also signed for the export by Procurement Services International Ltd of a variety of police vehicles including seven Tactica water canon. It was later revealed (23.1.97) that the latter licence covered over 300 armoured vehicles made by Southampton-based Glover Webb.

2. Letter to Ian Lang, President of the Board of Trade - available on request. Stephen Grosz, from the international human rights solicitors, Bindman and Partners will be acting on behalf of the organisations. Bindman and Partners acted for the WorId Development Movement on the successful Pergau Dam court case in 1994.

3. Photographs are available upon request.