Amnesty International concerned about Czech arms export to Ethiopia

Prague, Aug 3 (CTK) - Amnesty International of the Czech Republic (AI CR) today criticised the export of Czech arms to Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Colombia and Saudi Arabia as the armed forces of these countries killed civilians last year.
AICR is also concerned about the arms deals with China on which an EU embargo had been imposed and with Syria, the AICR report said.
The report said that firearms for hunting, leisure time and self-defence had ended up in China.
"Some countries to which Czech arms were delivered are a source of serious concern," the report said in reaction to the Czech annual report about arms trade in 2005.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda (the Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said on Wednesday that the Czech Republic respected international agreements and controlled the exports.
According to the report, Czech authorities rejected nine cases of requests for arms export last year. It happened in the case of Georgia, Liberia and Malaysia and six times in the case of Congo, said the report, published at the Foreign Ministry's webpage
On the other hand, a positive response was given to 1471 requests, the highest number since 1999.
Amnesty International expert Filip Karel said that Ethiopian authorities unfairly detained opposition leaders and soldiers had killed tens of demonstrators last year.
"Besides, civilians are killed arbitrarily in the regions near Somalia. There is also the threat that this country will be involved in the fighting in Somalia," AI said
In Colombia, security forces were involved in out-of-court executions of civilians, AI said. "Besides, through arms deliveries they support armed para-military units that are involved in the killing of civilians," AI said.
In Nigeria, the local armed forces mercilessly killed villagers who protested against the impact of petrol mining, the report said.
"The large amount of weapons in Nigeria contributes to widespread violence," AI said.
In Syria, there is the threat that the weapons can be delivered to armed terrorists, Amnesty International of the Czech Republic stressed.
The Czech Republic imports more arms than it exports, Industry and Trade Minister Milan Urban told journalists on Wednesday.
The Czech Republic used to rank among top arms exporters, Urban said, adding that there was no reason why the country could not return to this while respecting all international agreements.
However, Urban gave no concrete figures.
Last year, ammunition took up around a quarter of Czech arms production, followed by guns and gun systems.
The biggest buyer with nearly 37 percent was the Defence Ministry. Almost 40 percent of last year's output was exported, most of all aircraft technology, guns and gun systems.
Czech arms production continues falling for the fourth year in a row. Last year, the 26 largest companies in the field, which hold over 90 percent of the market, produced arms technology for 84 billion crowns. This means a fall by nearly 22 percent, Jaromir Culek of the Industry and Trade Ministry said last week.
(USD1=22.246 crowns)

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