HL Deb 18 January 2005 vol 668 c20WS
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

In December 2004 the Government issued four licences for the export of armoured jackets to the Ministry of Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ministry of Security required the vests for the State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA). SIPA is responsible for, inter alia, diplomatic protection, which includes the British Embassy in Sarajevo as well as the missions of EU partners and other allies; tackling organised crime; and investigating war crimes.

An EU arms embargo has been in place against Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996. The purpose of the embargo was to aid the establishment of peace and stability for the people of the region, taking into account in particular the need to ensure the safety of international troops and civilian personnel deployed. The embargo was amended in 1999 to exclude demining equipment and the transfer of small arms to the police.

We fully support the EU embargo. However, we are, in limited circumstances, prepared to make exceptions where denying an export would frustrate the purposes of the embargo. The UK has been active in encouraging Bosnia and Herzegovina to take greater responsibility for maintaining the rule of law and strengthening civilian policing. I am confident that granting this exception is fully consistent with this responsible approach of supporting the development of civilian policing while respecting the aims of the embargo.