Cluster munitions manufacturers should be tried, says expert
PETALING JAYA: The International Criminal Court should try cluster munitions manufacturers like Textron which produces cluster weapons for the military, said an expert Rae McGrath.
The Nobel Peace Prize co-Laureate (1997), who is also the International Spokesman on Cluster Munitions, said the arms industry had shamefully and quite clearly made blood money.
He said manufacturers have even resorted to placing advertisement in renowned Defence magazines espousing new cluster munitions.
"These are people without morals, companies without control and without supervision. They are working in a deadly business using the misery of the people in the world as a strap-line (to sell their weapons).
"Those are the people we would like to see in the international criminal court," he said on Wednesday at the International Conference on Humanity in War organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Asia Europe Institute and University Malaya.
(Cluster bombs like land mines are indiscriminate and do not distinguish between military targets and civilians. According to statistics, about 400 million people live in affected areas where they are at risk from unexploded cluster bomblets)
He said countries like Laos had in the late 1960s and early 1970s become a dumping and testing ground for the US arms industry.
He pointed out that the cluster munitions used on Laos for nine years up till 1973 totalled more those dropped by all countries during World War II.
And today, 34 years later, Laos is still in the process of clearing up the unexploded ordnance.
McGrath said a couple of weeks ago the US Government was criticising the rest of the world for not giving enough for the clearing of mines in Laos and comparing this to its (the US') own contributions.
"But to me, this is one place where the money should be taken directly out of the US taxpayers," he added.
On soldiers breaching humanitarian law in conflict areas, McGrath pointed out that it should not be only the young soldier who is brought to trial.
"Somewhere higher up in the chain of command a decision was made so much earlier that it made it much easier for the soldier to break the law," he said, adding that those higher up should also be held accountable.
He also noted a trend where the military was increasingly taking their place in civil society with more and more soldiers coming out to speak out when one of their own does something that is wrong and unjust.
"They are speaking out as citizens. And that's going to happen more often," he said.
Von: 18.07.2007, http://thestar.com.my