Author Archives: Fionna Tod

Time for tougher regulation of the Arms industry

The UK’s arms industry is one of the most prolific and lucrative in the world. From fighter jets to armoured vehicles to small arms, our arms dealers have a lot to offer the world by way of military equipment.

No one will deny the power this industry wields in Britain. Until as recently as 2002, UK citizens and companies could arrange the transfer of arms between any other countries in the world (apart from those under a binding UN arms embargo) with complete impunity and no oversight. It took decades of campaigning and the undeniable involvement of UK dealers in bloody conflicts in Rwanda and Liberia to change that, but we still have a long way to go to open ensure full oversight of this still very shady industry. You only need to look at the UK’s supply of military equipment to Saudi Arabia now being used indiscriminately on civilians in Yemen to understand how far.

That’s why I have been working with our Defence Spokesperson Judith Jolly on her Private Member’s Bill to introduce a UK Register of Arms Brokers. Despite progress made on licensing individual arms deals, there is ongoing risk that unscrupulous arms brokers operating under the radar may engage in unlicensed arms brokering beyond the knowledge and reach of UK export control enforcement. Such is the risk that it has prompted a significant number of countries, including Australia, South Africa, the United States and 18 EU Member States, to introduce a requirement that arms brokers first register with national authorities before applying for a transaction licence.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Contrasts of Cologne and Kent

Tim Farron in CologneLast month I accompanied Tim Farron on a visit to a British Red Cross centre in Gravesend, Kent to learn about the projects they run for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs). Home to the British end of the Channel Tunnel, Kent has always had a high proportion of UASCs, but 2015 brought an unprecedented number, with over 1000 new children entering into the care of the Local Authority. During our visit we met young people from Sudan and Eritrea who spoke about their experiences both in transit and since they’ve arrived in the UK.

In many ways it was similar to the visit I took with Tim and Catherine Bearder to Cologne in February, but there were also startling differences, and the starkest difference was in access to language courses and education.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 10 Comments
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