Monday, November 21, 2005

Open letter to Mr Cameron: Cluster bombs

Dear Mr Cameron,
You promised at a public meeting in Charlbury after the last Iraq war, to address the issue of cluster bombs used by British forces in Iraq on civilian areas. This has become front page news in the Independent today.

We would very much like to know what has become of your efforts to address this issue with the Government. Currently it appears the Government is continuing to evade any responsibilty for this war crime.

"UK's deadly legacy: the cluster bomb
It is feared that thousands of bomblets lie unexploded in Iraq, capable of maiming or killing innocent civilians. This week, more than two years after they were dropped, Britain is finally being held to account
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent
Published: 21 November 2005

Tony Blair is facing fresh fury over the use of controversial munitions in the Iraq war. Campaigners lambasted the Ministry of Defence over its use of deadly cluster bombs and shells during the invasion, warning that they could contravene international law.

MPs are to table a raft of new questions today over the affair amid fears that thousands of bomblets released during the war will leave a deadly legacy for Iraqi civilians. They warned that any unexploded bomblets could kill or maim civilians for years to come.

The dispute over British use of cluster bombs will be intensify this week with the publication of a report by the pressure group Landmine Action, which raises questions over the efforts made to ensure that the weapons did not harm civilians. It comes as international signatories to the international convention on conventional weapons meet in Geneva this week, amid pressure for a moratorium on the production of cluster bombs and tough new limits on their use.

The report, funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, said British officials had failed to gather field data about the failure rates of cluster bomblets, and had done 'little or nothing to gauge the humanitarian impact of these weapons'.

It said that the UK had 'failed to undertake any significant effort to understand better the impact of cluster munition use and has continued to use them. As was foreseeable, these cluster munitions have been a cause of civilian casualties.'

Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: 'This is a very significant report which raises some very serious issues. "


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