Arms exports: two deputies advocate parliamentary control

Two deputies recommend, in a report on arms exports, that France establishes control by its Parliament. “Making Parliament play its role is necessary to ensure that France complies with its international obligations and to strengthen the legitimacy of this public policy in the eyes of public opinion”, conclude Jacques Maire (LREM) and Michèle Tabarot ( LR).

At the end of their fact-finding mission, which began in April 2018, which required more than 180 hearings, the two parliamentarians recommend that parliament be more fully informed as well as the creation of a parliamentary delegation for arms control on the model of the dedicated one. intelligence, created in 2007.

“It is an objective in the long term, but what we want is to immediately initiate a control activity, the legal organization must not be subordinate to it”, explains Jacques Maire. “In our country, the executive is the judge and part of the quality of the examination process for license applications (for export, editor’s note), in particular with regard to the rigorous examination of respect for international humanitarian law”, further deplore the two deputies.

“Our country is very late”

“When we look at the system of notifications of licenses to the American Congress, the permanent debates in Germany, the decision-making power of the Swedish Parliament or the dedicated committee in Great Britain, we clearly see that our country is very late”, insists of her side Michèle Tabarot.

In France, the decision to export or not is taken by the Prime Minister on the advice of the Interministerial Commission for the Study of Exports of War Material (CIEEMG), according to a confidential procedure.

With 8.3 billion euros of military equipment sold in 2019, our country is one of the world’s leading exporters, which allows it to finance its army model and maintain its strategic autonomy. Public pressure increased with the intervention in the conflict in Yemen by two important clients of France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, suspected of war crimes by NGOs.

“The Yemeni conflict has revealed the weaknesses of French export control”, judge Aymeric Elluin, of Amnesty International France. Fourteen NGOs called on Monday in a press release “to put an end to the French opacity on arms sales and to establish real control of Parliament”.

Industrialists in “a form of disclaimer”

According to the two deputies, “the awareness of the political authorities still seems rather limited” with regard to legal risks, while “the vast majority of manufacturers” are in “a form of denial of responsibility”. They propose that a delegation of a few deputies and senators can access the opinions of the CIEEMG, hear members of the government and the administration, and publish an annual activity report with recommendations.

According to them, the control should also relate to the exports of dual-use goods, civil and military, by focusing on the identity of the recipient of the deliveries. Surveillance or law enforcement technologies can thus be used by certain countries to ensure control of the population.

It is also a matter of controlling the end use of exported materials. Thus, notes Jacques Maire in the report, light armored vehicles sold to Egypt for counterterrorism purposes “would in reality be used for law enforcement operations, during which violence is committed against demonstrators”. According to the French deputy, “the first protection in export control is the choice of the customer, even before the quality of the control. And the safest customer is the European customer ”towards whom we must continue to direct exports.

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