HL Deb 03 February 1997 vol 577 cc120-1WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have received about the use of water cannon supplied by United Kingdom companies against peaceful civilian demonstrations in Indonesia; what representations they have received on the licensing of exports of water cannon to Indonesia; and whether they will now suspend licences already issued, and refrain from granting any further licences, pending further inquiries by independent human rights agencies into the circumstances in which the Indonesian authorities use water cannon, and the development of codes of conduct which effectively prohibit their deployment against peaceful demonstrations.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

We have no evidence that UK-supplied water cannon have been used against peaceful civilian demonstrations in Indonesia, although we have recently received a report, which we are studying, alleging such use in Bandung in June 1996. Following the riots in Jakarta in July we have ensured that the Indonesian authorities are well aware of our concern that this equipment should not be used indiscriminately or to disperse peaceful demonstrations in violation of the universal human rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly.

We have received representations about the export of water cannon to Indonesia from various sources, including Members of Parliament, non-governmental organisations and the general public.

Licence applications for the export of defence equipment to all destinations, including Indonesia, are considered on a case by case basis. We monitor political developments in Indonesia closely, including the human rights situation there. These factors are taken into account before decisions are taken to allow the export of British defence equipment, including water cannon. Not all applications are approved. We do not licence for export any UK defence equipment which we judge likely to be used for internal repression. Any future applications for water cannon would also be considered on an individual basis, in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time. We have no plans to suspend licences already issued for the export of water cannon to Indonesia.