Amnesty International has indicated that more than 50,000 signatures, against arms exports to countries guilty of human rights violations, were delivered on Tuesday morning in Namur to the Walloon Minister-President, Willy Borsus. The signatures were carried in boxes of ammunition adorned with the symbolic but blood-soaked rooster, in front of the Walloon seat of government. For the occasion, members of Amnesty International also wore cockerel rooster masks.
Philippe Hensmans, the Director of the French-speaking Belgian section of Amnesty International, explained, “We came to echo the tens of thousands of people who are saying stop the arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia.” He went on, “It is high time that this immoral trade is ended and may Wallonia put all of its pride into the bold cockerel.”
In accordance with the Walloon decree, the organization is calling upon the region to formally establish a select committee, the role of which is to evaluate the risks of arms transfers and their human rights impact.
The manager of Amnesty International stated, “Mr Borsus told us that he had once again refused licences this week.” He went on, “Moreover, he proved receptive to our willingness to return with proposals, aiming to strengthen access to information and Parliament’s supervisory powers in this regard.”
The Minister-President is currently the only individual responsible for the grant or refusal of a licence. Furthermore, Mr Hensmans requests that reports detailing the decisions as regards the granting of licences are published on a monthly basis, and not annually as is the case at present.