France should reconsider allowing Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-owned arms trading company, to participate in Eurosatory, a major international arms show being held outside Paris from June 11 to 15, 2012. The arms show is “organized under the auspices” of the French Ministry of Defense.
Human Rights Watch has called for the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria, and for Rosoboronexport in particular to stop supplying arms to Syria in light of compelling evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for crimes against humanity. On June 3, Human Rights Watch publicly called for governments and companies around the world to stop signing new contracts with arms suppliers such as Rosoboronexport that supply weapons to Syria.
“France shouldn’t have it both ways – it can’t be a leading voice calling for an end to grave violations in Syria and imposing an arms embargo, while allowing Syria’s main arms dealer to come to Paris to promote its weapons and land new deals,” said Jean-Marie Fardeau, France director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s not acceptable to do business as usual with a company arming a government engaged in atrocities against its people.”
Some 1,300 exhibitors from 70 countries are expected to attend the Eurosatory arms show. Rosoboronexport, which is widely reported to be Syria’s main weapons supplier, plans to have an extensive presence at the show.
Under international law, providing weapons to Syria while its forces are committing crimes against humanity may translate into assisting in the commission of those crimes. Any arms supplier could bear potential criminal liability as an accessory to those crimes and could face prosecution, Human Rights Watch said. Not only Rosoboronexport, but all suppliers of arms to Syria should be subject to scrutiny, Human Rights Watch said.
Given its role in Syria, Human Rights Watch believes that Rosoboronexport should not be allowed to promote itself and seek new contracts at Eurosatory. Should Rosoboronexport be permitted to participate in the arms show, all arms show participants, including official delegations and private arms brokers, should refuse to negotiate any new deals with Rosoboronexport.
“Our hope is that if there is a Rosoboronexport booth at Eurosatory, it is a very lonely place,” Fardeau said. “Rosoboronexport’s potential clients should shun any new business with the company until it stops selling arms to Syria while such grave crimes are being committed.”