Media release Australia – Greens will move to strengthen flawed cluster munitions law

Greens will move to strengthen flawed cluster munitions law

Media Release – Monday March 28th, 2011

The Australian Greens have urged the Government to take a strong stand against the use of cluster munitions, after a Senate committee failed to recommend improvements to proposed legislation to outlaw the weapons.

Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said the report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee tabled late Friday night failed to recommend the removal of serious loopholes in the law that will allow Australian forces to actively assist military allies in their use of cluster munitions.

“This bill is ostensibly ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which the Government signed in 2008. The Convention clearly prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, as well as banning assistance with these activities. The bill falls short of meeting the obligations of the Convention,” said Senator Ludlam.

“The bill would allow the Australian Defence Force to assist foreign powers using cluster munitions, which is precisely what the Treaty seeks to prevent. The law explicitly allows foreign forces to use Australian territory to stockpile and transport cluster bombs, and critically, there is no strong prohibition on investment in the production of cluster munitions,” said Senator Ludlam.

Senator Ludlam said the Greens will move amendments in the Senate to improve the legislation so it represents a real stand against cluster munitions.

“Cluster munitions are weapons containing multiple, usually hundreds, of explosive sub-munitions. The outer casing is designed to break open mid-air, releasing the sub-munitions and saturating an area that can be the size of several football fields. Anybody within that area, military or civilian, is likely to be killed or seriously injured. As many of the sub-munitions fail to explode on impact, huge quantities are left on the ground and remain a grave threat to anyone in the area long after a conflict ends. 98% of the victims of ‘left over’ cluster munitions are civilians. These weapons kill and main people for decades after the fighting is over. They must be eradicated.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre

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