Foreign Ministry ignored advice that weapon systems export could be used in war-torn Yemen
“Breach of duty,” says the Green Party
Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Golriz Ghahraman said the permits made the government criminally responsible.
“It is absolutely frightening that the senior officials of [MFAT] tasked with keeping New Zealand away from serious human rights violations, and in particular war crimes, found there was a real risk that we would help war crimes and decided to err on the side of trade, ”she said.
Ghahraman added that even if the mortar systems were only used to train UAE forces which were later deployed to Yemen, the export of this equipment could still contribute to war crimes.
“The fact that the MFAT is starting to cut its hair in four in this way is a complete dereliction of its duty.”
The documents showed officials believed they were pressed for time to consider the 2018 export.
“We need to get a decision processed by Monday at the latest,” Pearson wrote in his email.
At times, officials also seemed to downplay the military enforcement of some exports. When reviewing a permit for a shipment of weapons suppressors later that year, they wrote: “Suppressors would be used in conjunction with military firearms, but would not carry in themselves. breach of peace and security. “
They also claimed that the suppressors “provide health / safety benefits to troops using firearms, ie hearing protection.”
However, Paul Buchanan, a security expert who helped oversee military export permits for the US Department of Defense in the 1990s, said it was wrong.
“The silencer is not designed to protect your hearing. It is crap. It is designed to suppress sound so that the enemy or unfortunate target cannot hear the shot.”
Before signing the export of the suppressors in August 2018, MFAT officials wrote that there was “no evidence that the UAE was involved in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or crimes. of war”.
Four months earlier, a group of UN exporters had discovered that the United Arab Emirates had committed human rights violations that “may amount to the following war crimes: rape, degrading and cruel treatment, torture and human rights abuses. to personal dignity ”.
MFAT is undertaking a review of its export control regime.