NGOs to sue Denmark over arms exports to Israel

A committee of NGOs announced their intentions to sue the Danish government for their continued exportation of arms to Israel on March 12, Reuters reported.

Since October 7, brutal Israeli forces have killed in excess of 31,000 civilians in Gaza as well as obstructing a significant percentage of aid to the enclave as a quarter of the population are facing famine-like conditions. 

Amnesty International Denmark, Action Aid Denmark, Oxfam Denmark and Palestinian rights group Al-Haq announced that they would be taking legal action against the Foreign Ministry and the National Police, both of whom approve the sales of arms to foreign countries. 

They said in a joint statement that they would start legal procedures within the next three weeks however remain undecided on which court they would file the lawsuit to. 

Given that Denmark is a member of the UN Arms Trade Treaty and the EU’s Common Rules on Arms Exports, the country’s arms supplies are subject to regular and detailed human rights assessments. 

As Israel has been found on numerous occasions to be breaching international law and there is a high chance that they are committing genocide in Gaza, as found in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict in January, the selling of weapons to the state is a concern for the UN and rights groups alike. 

The ICJ called on Israel to limit civilian deaths and to let aid into Gaza however stopped short at calling for a cessation of hostilities. 

READ: Dutch court blocks shipment of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel

Justifying their decision to sue the Danish state, Amnesty International Denmark said, “There is a clear risk that weapons and military equipment that Denmark directly and indirectly exports to Israel will be used to commit serious crimes against civilians in Gaza. Thus, Denmark violates the international rules on the arms trade, while at the same time Denmark risks being complicit in violations of international humanitarian law – including war crimes – and a plausible genocide. 

“This is the assessment of four prominent organizations that are now taking legal action to stop Danish exports of weapons and military equipment to Israel. With the lawsuit, the organizations want the courts to assess whether the export contravenes the rules on arms trade to which Denmark has committed itself. 

“For several years, Danish authorities have allowed Danish companies to export components for F-35 fighter jets through a US-led defence cooperation without conducting specific assessments of the risk of contributing to war crimes. The US sells the finished fighter jets to Israel.” 

Action Aid Denmark commented, “For five months we have been talking about a potential genocide in Gaza, but we have not seen politicians take action.” 

In a similar incident, The Netherlands, also a signatory of the UN Arms Trade Treaty and the EU’s Common Rules on Arms Exports, blocked arms exports to Israel in February due to them being used for war crimes. 

The Dutch appeals court ordered the government to cease exporting US-owned F-35 fighter jet parts as they are used “in serious violations of international humanitarian law”. 

Reuters/Amnesty International Denmark

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