Welsh Government’s role at arms fair to be reviewed

A demonstrator holds a placard outside the Court of AppealImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Earlier this yr, campaigners gained a authorized problem over the UK authorities’s resolution to enable arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia

The Welsh Government’s place at one of many world’s largest arms gala’s is to be reviewed, the primary minister has stated.

Mark Drakeford stated it attended Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London to assist cyber safety companies, not these within the arms commerce.

But Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood known as the occasion “abhorrent” and condemned the federal government for attending.

Organisers stated guests should adjust to UK and worldwide regulation.

The occasion, which ends on Friday and is held each two years, is sponsored by the UK authorities’s Ministry of Defence.

Speaking there on Wednesday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated the sector introduced in “sales worth more than £19bn” to the UK financial system.

But Ms Wood stated: “This is an event where weapons and warfare equipment ranging from tear gas and missiles to fighter planes and warships will be promoted and traded between governments known for their human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.”

In June, judges dominated the UK authorities’s resolution to enable arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia – which is engaged within the long-running struggle in Yemen – was illegal.

Image caption Saudi Arabia’s warplanes and munitions are provided by the UK and US

The Welsh Government has had a presence at the present for eight years, with ministers attending in 2015 and 2017.

In advertising materials for this yr’s occasion, it stated: “Wales is a cornerstone of UK defence operations, through training the defence industry workforce of the future, as well as the availability of secure sites and airspace.”

Mr Drakeford stated the Welsh Government’s stall was “to support important Welsh companies” concerned in cyber-security, “not directly in the arms area”.

“Those companies need to be able to display what they have to offer to people who want to buy their products – that’s why we will be supporting them at that event,” he added.

“But I will be reviewing whether or not this is the best way to support those companies from now on.”

‘International legal guidelines’

Ms Wood, Plaid Cymru’s social justice spokeswoman stated: “That the Labour Welsh government is a sponsor and has a stall at such an abhorrent event is disgraceful and should be unequivocally condemned.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith stated: “The Welsh authorities mustn’t be supporting this occasion, or utilizing it as a promotional automobile of any type.

“The weapons being bought at this arms fair may be utilized in abuses and atrocities for years to come. DSEI wants to be closed down for good, not celebrated.”

DSEI organiser Clarion Defence and Security stated on its web site guests should adhere to the “highest regulatory scrutiny, complying with UK and worldwide legal guidelines, treaties and conventions”.

It stated it labored intently with the UK authorities, which invited all worldwide delegations, to guarantee strict compliance.

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