The Defense Commission of the Congress of Deputies asked the Government on Wednesday to stop the sale of all weapons that may end up being used to commit “war crimes” in the armed conflict in Yemen. The proposal, from United We Can, obtained the support of a good part of the groups (Cs, PP, ERC and Bildu) and the votes against the PSOE. The far right abstained from voting.
Spanish companies trained Saudi Arabian military personnel in the Army’s premises in Zaragoza
The proposal represents a timid step forward to curb the use of Spanish weapons in that conflict, mainly by the coalition formed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, a resolution that directly requested the suspension of the sale of arms to the Riyadh regime could not be approved, in line with what different European governments have decided in recent years.
“The congressional request is a knock for the government,” says Alberto Estévez, Amnesty International spokesman on the arms trade. “Up to now [el Ejecutivo] it has been determined to apply the ostrich policy on this issue and has refused to apply the prohibition of arms transfers to commit atrocities established in the Arms Trade Treaty. ”
Last April, an investigation by elDiario.es revealed how Saudi soldiers who later participated in the Yemeni conflict went to units of the Spanish Army to receive training from private companies such as the Everis consultancy (now called NTT Data Spain). It was also demonstrated how some transfers of military material to this country were hidden from both the UN and the Arms Trade Treaty.
More transparency in the sale of weapons
Another of the requests to the Government approved in the Defense Commission of Congress was that progress should be made once and for all in the transparency of the sale of Spanish weapons. On Wednesday, a resolution was approved in which the Executive is asked to “continue advancing” in “transparency in the arms trade” by approving a new Law on Official Secrets that “guarantees” that restrictions on the right of access to information “comply with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality”.
Today the deliberations and meetings where it is decided to approve or suspend the sale of military material to countries immersed in wars are secret thanks to the Official Secrets Law. Neither the NGOs, nor the press nor even the deputies can access the reasons that lead the Executive to approve or suspend an arms sale contract.
Regarding the war in Libya, the Defense Commission approved a resolution in which the Government is asked to apply the “verification protocol” on the destination of military material exported to countries such as Iraq, Egypt and Turkey due to the risk of diversion and / or use in the Libyan conflict. In August 2020 this newspaper revealed how Spanish companies provide logistical support to Turkish army flights that transfer mercenaries to the Libyan war with the acquiescence of the Government.