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German Gun-Maker Won’t Sell Weapons in War Zones

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Heckler & Koch, a company whose weapons are estimated to have killed more than 2 million people since its founding in 1949, has taken a new stand on whom it will sell weapons to, reported Truthdig (US).

According to The Jerusalem Post, the German company released a list of banned countries. They include Israel, Mexico, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and all African countries.

The Post reports:
“The company quietly announced the move as a side note in its most recent annual report, stating that they will now only sell to “green countries,” which they defined as being NATO-members or “NATO-equivalent” (Japan, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand) and those that met Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index.”

While Heckler & Koch did not respond to an inquiry regarding why Israel was added to the list, the German economic ministry told The Jerusalem Post in an email that while they are aware of the media reports, “we don’t comment on company trials or decisions.”

According to The Guardian, the move makes Heckler & Koch the first arms company to have a more ethical export control policy than its own government. Germany, the world’s fifth largest arms exporter with a total of 6.85 billion euros ($8.22 billion) in sales last year, is in a two-year pilot phase of a new initiative to monitor the end use of its arms export.

Heckler & Koch faced harsh criticism last year when it was accused of illegally exporting close to 9,500 high-powered G3 assault rifles to Mexico between 2003 and 2011. A report from the Customs Criminal Office in Cologne accused the company of delivering around 4,800 guns to countries where exports are banned due to suspected police corruption and human rights abuses.
The same report noted that company directors also are considering setting up a fund for victims of its guns.

In April, Germany faced backlash after Deutsche Welle, a German broadcasting service, reported that the country was supplying weapons in the Yemen conflict. The government approved a sale to the United Arab Emirates of 203,448 detonators for 40 mm shells and $134 million worth of armor plating for military vehicles.

Shortly after that, Saudi Arabia announced it would no longer ask to buy weapons from Germany.

In 2016, Germany exported almost $7 billion worth of weapons. The U.S., which sells more weapons than any country in the world, reportedly exported $33.6 billion worth of weapons that same year.

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