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Professors confront minister over arms exports

Switzerland is breaking its own laws by selling arms and war materials to countries like the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, a group of law professors say.

In an open letter published on Sunday to Doris Leuthard, the Swiss economics minister, 70 law professors argue that Swiss-made weapons are helping to fuel wars and to bolster regimes with poor human-rights records.

The group says a substantial portion of arms sales made in the first half of 2009 went toward fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan or for armed conflicts in the purchasing country.

The third-largest buyer of Swiss armaments is Saudi Arabia, a country that consistently ranks low on upholding human rights, they say.

This goes against Swiss regulation that forbids such sales, the letter argues.

Leuthard countered the complaint on Sunday saying that arms exports to countries involved in Iraq and Afghanistan were allowed because the United Nations supported participation in those conflicts.

On November 29 voters will decide on a people's initiative calling for a ban on war-material exports.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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