Lib Dems call for crackdown on arms traders

The Liberal Democrats have proposed a new law to create a register of arms dealers in Britain.

The party said the law would mean greater accountability for UK arms sales to “shady regimes” like Saudi Arabia…

The party’s Defence Spokesperson Judith Jolly said: “This register would allow better scrutiny of these shady deals, and bring the UK into line with countries like the US and Australia, which already regulate brokers.”

Britain currently has registers for 32 trades, but these do not include arms brokers. Of 28 countries flagged for concern by the Foreign Office on issues such as human rights abuses and fanaticism, 23 have deals to buy arms from the UK.

“While many arms brokers work within the law, some unscrupulous brokers are responsible for the illegitimate and illegal trade of weapons, including to terrorist groups and in war zones including Yemen and Syria”, said Jolly. [Huffington Post]

Concerns about arms dealing has long been a feature of the Liberal Democrats – including the tenacious campaigning over many years to expose the full story behind the Al Yamamah arms deal.

Last summer Tim Farron called for legal changes to up the personal responsibility for ministers in approving controversial deals:

A major overhaul of arms exports policy to prevent British-made weapons being used for internal repression and military aggression is being demanded by the frontrunner in the contest for the Liberal Democrat leadership.

Tim Farron is calling for the law to be changed to require ministers to approve personally each sale to countries with poor human rights records, such as China, Russia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

He is also backing fresh controls to stop British weapons falling into the hands of repressive regimes via a third country, and for greater transparency in the system governing arms sales.

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