PAX tries to stop Egypt arms deal

Image: Dutch weapons systems are to be installed on Gowind corvettes manufactured by the French company DCNS which will then be sold to the Egyptian navy. Photo

July 7, 2016

PAX, along with two other organizations, is taking its fight to block an arms deal the Dutch government has approved for Egypt a step further.

On Wednesday, PAX, the Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) and Stop Wapenhandel filed an appeal against an earlier ruling which stated that the organizations have no standing to bring the case. This is the first time in the Netherlands that organizations have disputed an arms deal using judicial means.

The government announced in September of last year that it had granted an arms export license for a deal with the Egyptian navy. The military material is worth 34 million euros. As required by law, the government informed parliament of the deal and of the human rights situation in the country receiving the arms. But while the government cited ‘severe human rights violations’ in Egypt, it claimed that these violations would not be effected by the deal as the material would be delivered to the navy, not the army. This ignores the fact that the Egyptian navy is participating in the blockade of Yemen, resulting in severe shortages in that country. It also ignores reports that the Egyptian navy has opened fire on refugee boats.

According to Frank Slijper of Pax, ‘Egypt is providing the Saudi Arabian-led military operations in Yemen with ground troops and naval vessels. The humanitarian situation in Yemen has drastically deteriorated due to the naval blockade and it is said that war crimes have been committed.’ The NJCM claims the Dutch government did not sufficiently take the human rights situation into account when it granted the export license for the deal with the Egyptian navy.

No standing
A lower court ruled that the organizations do not have standing to bring the case. Lawyer Jelle Klaas of PILP-NJCM says, ‘If organisations such as the NJCM, PAX and Stop Wapenhandel cannot object to an arms export license, nobody can’. The organisations standpoint is that legal procedures should be possible if the government’s licensing of arms exports may lead to a deterioration of human rights.

Wednesday´s appeal asks the court for a provisional remedy to suspend the export license and freeze the delivery of the military material until a final decision on standing has been made.

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