Save the Children welcomes comments by a former Defence Department Secretary questioning the Australian Government’s policy of selling weapons to countries that stand accused of gross human rights violations and war crimes.
Quoted in the Guardian, former Secretary of the Defence Department Paul Barrett has said:
“The fact remains that Australia now has a national policy which seeks and facilitates weapons sales with countries that stand accused of gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes.
“As a country that routinely asks other countries to abide by the rules-based international order, it would seem hypocritical, at best, that Australia is now willing to … make a profit from, weapons sales to nations that are openly flouting this international order.”
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds highlighted the former Defence Secretary’s strong stand and urged others to speak out.
“It is unthinkable that Australia continues to allow defence exports to countries accused of committing human rights abuses and war crimes in Yemen,” said Mr Ronalds.
“The war in Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now, killing civilians – and especially children – in swathes.
“To think that Australia could be somehow complicit in this catastrophic war is truly horrifying.”
A recent UN report has detailed a host of possible war crimes committed over the past five years by parties to the conflict in Yemen, including the governments of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, to whom Australia continues to export military assets to.
“Australia is increasingly isolated in its decision to continue to allow military exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in these circumstances. It is unconscionable to say the very least, and it should stop immediately.”
Countries including the UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Austria have already suspended their defence exports to Saudi Arabia due to concerns over the war in Yemen.
Since the war began four years ago more than 85,000 children have died of starvation and diseases, with hundreds killed or injured by foreign-made bombs.
To absolutely guarantee Australian made weapons aren’t being used to commit human rights abuses and war crimes, Save the Children calls for an immediate halt to defence exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Throughout 2019, it’s Centenary year, Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to do more to Stop the War on Children, including for the children of Yemen by ending the export of Australian made military assets to Saudi Arabia. To find out more go to www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au
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