PBI-Mexico notes German court hearing on assault rifles believed to have been used in the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa 43

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project has posted on its Facebook a statement from the German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico about a Federal Superior Court hearing related to illegal arms exports to Mexico.

The statement notes: “The oral hearing before the Federal Superior Court of the case for the illegal arms exports to Mexico of the company Heckler & Koch (H&K) will be on February 11. The process puts the focus once again on the criminal liability of German arms manufacturers and on the serious deficiencies in the arms export control systems.”

In September 2020, Deutsche Welle reported that former managers with Heckler & Koch, Germany’s biggest gun-maker, had been convicted in 2019 of illegally selling weapons to Mexico, in violation of Germany’s export controls.

NPR also reported: “A Stuttgart court ruled that Heckler & Koch broke Germany’s War Weapons Control Act by sending more than 4,000 G36 assault rifles, ammunition and other weapons to a central government buyer in Mexico — where they were then distributed to areas seen as being at high risk for violence and human rights violations.”

That article also noted: “The guns, which were sold in 16 batches from 2006 to 2009, are believed to have been used in at least one high-profile murder case: the 2014 kidnapping and apparent killing of 43 students from a teachers college in Iguala, Guerrero.”

The Ayotzinapa 43 were students from a politically radical, poor, mostly Indigenous teachers’ college in the town of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero.

Carola Hausotter, coordinator of the German Human Rights Coordination Mexico, says: “The verdict will guide German export licensing practices.”

Human rights and Canadian arms exports

The Government of Canada has reported: “For the 2019 calendar year, the value of Canadian exports of controlled military goods and technology amounted to a record high of approximately $3.757 billion.”

In 2013, The Globe and Mail reported: “Though Canada’s arms trade is legal and regulated, analysts say the increases raise questions about the government’s foreign policy commitment to human rights, and its regulatory regime for arms exports.”

Open Canada has noted: “In March 2016, Textron’s subsidiary Bell Helicopter delivered the final Bell 407GXP helicopter from its factory in Montreal to the Mexican air force in a deal worth $37.5 million. …According to a 2014 Jane’s article, these helicopters will ‘operate in pairs, with one helicopter performing aerial spraying of marijuana or poppy plantations while covered by an armed escort.’”

In February 2017, L’actualité reported: “In total, Canada has sold $18.5 billion in military goods to 143 countries or territories over the past 25 years, excluding the United States [and that] military goods worth $4.3 billion, or a quarter of exports, landed in 77 countries where political repression (such as unlimited detention without trial for political opponents) was evident during the year of export.”

A ruling on the appeal in Germany is expected on March 11.

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