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Arms Trade

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What measures they are introducing to prevent the use of United Kingdom-sourced equipment for terrorist acts and torture. [HL90]

The export of strategic exports—that is, military and dual-use goods from the UK or a UK individual or company overseas—requires an export licence. All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, also known as the Code of Conduct. No licence is issued for equipment to be exported to any country if it is considered that the equipment or its likely use in a given country is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.

Criterion 2 of the Code of Conduct specifically covers respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including careful consideration of equipment that could be used for torture or other cruel acts. Criterion 6 covers the behaviour of the buyer (and, by extension under Criterion 7, any other end user) with regard to terrorism and international law. Export licence applications are also assessed against European Council Regulation 1236/2005, “Concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. This system of licensing the export of military and dual-use goods is reviewed regularly.

The Government expect to issue a response to the current review at the end of the year.