Amnesty condemns Finland-Middle East arms deals

Amnesty International has criticised Finland for exporting weapons to Middle Eastern governments during the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings.

The report, published last week, finds that Finland supplied weapons to Bahrain as recently as January and gave Egypt two sniper rifles the previous year.

The country was mentioned alongside other European nations, Russia and the United States in the ‘Arms Transfers to the Middle East and North Africa’ file, which documents large firearms and munitions shipments prior to this year’s uprisings.

“It’s somewhat incomprehensible that Finland was still dealing arms to Bahrain in January,” said Frank Johansson, the head of the Finnish chapter of Amnesty International, in a YLE report. He added that although the organisation is not seeking a complete ban on arms sales, it is hoping to promote what it calls the UN’s ‘golden rule’, which prohibits the sale of weapons to states that are likely to use them in human rights abuses.

Johansson points out that following a push by Finland between 2003 and 2006, Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish minister for foreign affairs, was the first to support tougher international arms trading rules. Amnesty is now calling for an arms trade treaty to be enforced on the global sale of weapons.