HRW critical of loopholes in Slovakia's arms trade control

International watchdog group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Slovakia should strengthen its regulations and parliamentary controls over the arms trade, news wire SITA wrote.

The country should set stricter criteria for companies licensed to trade in arms and more closely monitor the real destination of cargo containing weapons, the HRW warned.

According to the HRW, Slovakia has continued to be involved in trading arms with human rights abusers. The report cites three cases of disputable arms trade transactions in the past.

In 2000 and 2001, international smuggling rings abused loopholes in arms trade controls and supplied military helicopters to Liberia, which is under a UN embargo. Officially, the helicopters came to Slovakia for repair, but loopholes in the legislation regulating arms trade enabled their further export to Liberia.

In 2001 the Slovak government approved the export of surplus military jets into Angola, which, according to the HRW report, was also in contravention of the EU Codex for Arms Export. The trade was discovered through investigations of corruption and conflict of interest.

The report also mentions another case in which Iranian cargo containing anti-tank munitions was seized at the Bratislava Airport. The investigation into this case is still underway.

The final case mentioned by the HRW report is from 2002 when Slovakia exported nine D-90 cannons and six rocket launchers to Uganda, which is responsible for the continued fighting in the neighbouring Congo and the death of more than 3 million people.

Slovak authorities responsible for the arms trade said that cases such as these would not be prevented even if stricter controls were introduced.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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