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Prime Minister’s deafening silence unacceptable on anniversary of Landmine Treaty

Statement by the Australian Arms Control Coalition on United States' decision to lift restrictions on the use of landmines
02 March 2020

As the world marks the 21st anniversary of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, a coalition of civil society groups is calling on the Australian Prime Minister to break his silence on the US government’s backslide on landmine use.

Last month the Australian Arms Control Coalition wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging him to condemn the US Government’s decision to lift restrictions on the use of landmines.

The letter asked the Australian Government to rule-out Australian involvement in the laying, shipment and storage of landmines as part of joint operations overseas or on bases here in Australia.

The manufacture and export of landmines or components by Australia must also be ruled-out despite the Government’s ambition to become a top 10 weapons exporter. 

“Australia has historically been a leader in demining – as recently as last month announcing $10 million to help Cambodia become mine-free by 2025,” said Joe Rafalowicz, spokesperson for the Australian Arms Control Coalition.

“Yet when our most significant military ally, the United States, announces it intends to scale-up landmine use, our Prime Minister is deafeningly silent.”

In February the US reversed its long-standing policy banning the use of anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula. 

In 2018, there were 1,714 recorded child casualties from landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). Of this total, 582 children were killed by mines/ERW and another 1,132 were injured1

Almost four weeks after the AACC sent the letter to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister, no response has been received.

 “The majority of landmine victims are civilians, and more than half of those killed are children. On the anniversary of the historic Mine Ban Treaty, the Prime Minister must declare that Australia will play no part in the manufacture or use of landmines . Children’s lives are at stake.”

The AACC is calling for the Australian Government to – 

  • Register Australia’s grave concern with the United States over its new policy allowing the increased use of anti personnel landmines;
  • Ensure Australia’s military cooperation with the United States does not involve the transhipment or storage of anti personnel landmines through US military bases on Australian soil;
  • In the case of joint operations, guarantee Australian forces will not be involved in the facilitation of landmine placement;
  • Continue to champion the ban of landmines internationally, including by funding de-mining programs and by complying with Australia’s own international commitments; and 
  • Guarantee that Australia’s ambition to become a top 10 defence exporter will not include the manufacture or export of anti-personnel landmines or components. 

  http://www.the-monitor.org/media/3073853/Children-Info-11-19.pdfThe AACC was formed in April 2019 out of shared concern around the lack of accountability and transparency in Australia’s defence exports, particularly around current arms sales to parties to the devastating war in Yemen.

Its members include Save the Children Australia, Amnesty International, SafeGround Inc, Human Rights Watch, the Australian Centre for International Justice, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, the Medical Association for Prevention of War, Oxfam Australia, SumOfUs, Wage Peace and individual advocates.

ENDS

For media inquiries contact Licardo Prince on 0401 777 917 or Licardo.prince@savethechildren.org.au

1 http://www.the-monitor.org/media/3073853/Children-Info-11-19.pdf

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