Flawed cluster bomb bill requires careful consideration

Ottawa (12 June 2013):  Mines Action Canada is calling on the House of Commons to carefully review the severely flawed draft implementation legislation on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Bill S-10.  Mines Action Canada is disappointed to see that second reading debate on Bill S-10 was cut short by time allocation last night.  It is up to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to review the legislation and amend it to protect not only the spirit and the intent of the Convention, but also to safeguard innocent lives and Canada’s reputation as a protector of civilians in armed conflict.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a total global ban on the use, production and stockpiling of cluster munitions.  Cluster munitions have been banned because of the unacceptable harm to civilians caused by these weapons at their time of use and when they fail to function as intended.  Since Canada has consistently been a leader on humanitarian disarmament issues, civil society in Canada and overseas are surprised and concerned about the loopholes found in Bill S-10. 

The assertion made last night that Canadians should not let perfection get in the way of progress is severely problematic because the Bill S-10 is not merely imperfect, Bill S-10 will damage the Convention of Cluster Munitions and its life-saving work.  For example, Section 11 of Bill S-10 includes a loophole that permits Canadians to request other countries to use cluster munitions in the course of joint military operations which is blatantly contrary to the spirit of a total ban on the weapon. 

“Canada could have the weakest legislation in the world unless MPs are willing to make some much needed amendments.   Mines Action Canada and its colleagues in the Cluster Munition Coalition encourage the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to take time to carefully consider the draft legislation and hear from a variety of expert witnesses to ensure that Bill S-10 is a strong and effective piece of legislation.  Bill S-10 needs significant amendments in order to ensure that Canada is a leader in protecting civilians, as well as, ensuring that no Canadian will ever use this banned weapon for any reason, anywhere, at any time, for anyone” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director.

Mines Action Canada notes that the Official Opposition has not yet heard from any expert witnesses on Bill S-10.  A number of international experts from the fields of law, humanitarian aid work, deminers and military including victims of these horrible weapons have volunteered to testify in regards to this draft legislation.  Mines Action Canada believes that Bill S-10 requires a full and detailed examination in the Committee to ensure that Canada does not enact legislation that will diminish our international reputation and put the lives of civilians around the world in jeopardy.

As the legislation moves into Committee review, citizens across Canada and cluster munition victims around the world call on Members of Parliament to ensure that the legislation lives up to the spirit and purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions which is to end for all time the suffering caused by cluster munitions.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Erin Hunt, Program Officer, Mines Action Canada, tel. 613-241-3777, email erin@minesactioncanada.org

 

Notes to Editors 

About cluster bombs:

A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. They cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.

111 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (83 full States Parties - in bold):

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Zambia. See www.stopclustermunitions.org/treatystatus for details.

About Mines Action Canada (MAC)
Formed in 1994 Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned with the human and socio-economic impacts of landmines, cluster munitions and other weapons causing similar humanitarian impacts. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition. www.minesactioncanada.org

 

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