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Australian Parliament undermines international cluster bomb eradication laws

The Federal Parliament of Australia, a country which, in the 1960's participated in the devastating war against Vietnam and in the illegal wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and which is now participating in the ongoing war against Afghanistan, yesterday passed legislation to undermine international laws to eradicate cluster bombs. The Governing Labor Party and the Opposition Liberal/National Coalition united to support the bill. This was a betrayal of Australian international obligations, Australian Greens spokesperson Assisting on Defence Senator Scott Ludlam said yesterday after the Government's cluster munitions bill passed the Senate.

This article has been adapted from a media release by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. See also: Australia poised to pass dubious law to implement cluster bomb ban in stopclustermunitions.org, Australian responsibility: cluster bomb carnage in Iraq of 3 March 2011 by Chris Doran in Online Opinion, Senate considers new cluster bomb laws in the SMH of 20 August 2012, Senate passes ban on cluster munitions (a misleading title) in The Australian of 21 August 2012.

This article has been adapted from a media release by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.See also: Australia poised to pass dubious law to implement cluster bomb ban in stopclustermunitions.org, Australian responsibility: cluster bomb carnage in Iraq of 3 March 2011 by Chris Doran in Online Opinion, Senate considers new cluster bomb laws in the SMH of 20 August 2012, Senate passes ban on cluster munitions (a misleading title) in The Australian of 21 August 2012.

The Federal Parliament of Australia, a country which, in the 1960's participated in the devastating war against Vietnam and in the illegal wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and which is now participating in the ongoing war against Afghanistan, yesterday passed legislation to undermine international laws to eradicate cluster bombs.

The Governing Labor Party and the Opposition Liberal/National Coalition united to support the bill. This was a betrayal of Australian international obligations, Australian Greens spokesperson Assisting on Defence Senator Scott Ludlam said yesterday after the Government's cluster munitions bill passed the Senate.


Survivor Soraj Ghulam Habib outside the Australian
Senate in Canberra last year. Photo credit: CMC

Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence Senator Scott Ludlam said the bill "ignores the urgent pleadings of the medical and humanitarian communities and completely fails to meet our obligations under the international Convention outlawing cluster bombs".

"Sub-munitions from cluster bombs that do not explode on impact remain a threat for decades - 98% of the victims of these are civilians. These monstrous weapons have no legitimate role to play under any circumstances.



Nguyen Thi Cuc



Li Van Thang



Ho Van Ly

"This law allows Australian forces to store, transport, and assist in the use of cluster bombs. Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic said this law could 'allow Australian military personnel to load and aim the gun, so long as they did not pull the trigger'. It also fails to outlaw indirect investment in companies producing cluster munitions.

"The Government advised me in the Senate last night that storing and transporting cluster munitions for other countries is not their policy. If it's not their policy, why is it allowed by the legislation? Why not close the loophole?"

Senator Ludlam tabled leaked diplomatic cables - published by WikiLeaks and used in Fairfax media reports in May 2011 - showing the Government, at the behest of the United States, lobbied to undermine the Convention to allow the very same flaws now entrenched in Australian domestic law.

"Despite the denials, leaks revealed that the Government lobbied countries to water-down the Convention on eradicating cluster munitions. That shameful misadventure failed, and as a result our country is a signatory to an unequivocal agreement aimed at eliminating cluster munitions from the face of the Earth: There is no grey area and there are no excuses - yet tonight the Government and the Opposition have shown no backbone and no honour."

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302