Investigation claims weapons manufactured in the Czech Republic are being sold to known suppliers of Syrian war actors.
By BOHEMIST STAFF
PRAGUE – The Czech Republic is named as one of eight countries that has supplied more than 1.2 billion Euros of weaponry and munitions to key arms markets for Syrian and Yemen, according to a damning report released today.
The report is part of a year-long investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania were the countries named supplying to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, which are the primary weapons and ammunition markets for actors in the ongoing Middle East conflicts.
“In the past, the region had virtually no track record of buying from central and eastern Europe. But purchases appear to be escalating, with some of the biggest deals approved in 2015,” the report said.
Weapons from the eight countries were identified as being used by the Free Syrian Army and by ISIS fighters, according to the report, which was entitled “Making a Killing”. The report included a catalog tracking the on-passage of weapons bought from the Czech Republic and other countries, straight into the hands of actors in the four years long Syrian Civil War and other sites of conflict in the region.
“The Czech Foreign Ministry was the only public body to directly address concerns about human rights abuses and diversions, saying it took into account both when weighing up an export licence and had blocked transfers on that basis,” the report’s authors said.
Experts interviewed by BIRN and OCCRP said the trade in munitions from Czech Republic and its neighbors was almost certainly illegal.
“The evidence points towards systematic diversion of weapons to armed groups accused of committing serious human rights violations. If this is the case, the transfers are illegal under the [United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty] and other international law and should cease immediately,” the report quoted Patrick Wilcken, an arms-control researcher at Amnesty International who reviewed the evidence collected by reporters.
The investigation did not name individual Czech weapons houses, although local media reported in 2015 that exports represented around 80% of homegrown weapons production. In 2013 arms exports from Czech Republic were worth 7.5 billion Kc.
There are more than 13 weapons manufacturers listed in the Czech Republic.