In defiance of corporate pressure, the film Arms Trade On Trial has been released, which documents our attempts to hold arms dealers from the DSEi arms fair to account for the promotion of illegal torture weapons.
DSEi (“Defence Security Equipment International”), is the world’s largest arms fair, and takes place every two years in East London. It is jointly held and heavily subsidised by the British government. DSEi has hosted arms companies from more than 50 countries, with around 1500 exhibitors registered as selling arms, missiles, fighter aircrafts, tanks, military electronics and warships, as well as surveillance and riot control equipment. At the last DSEi arms fair around 30,000 buyers and sellers came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Israel, Mexico and Colombia. Anti-militarist activists and peace campaigners have engaged a diversity of tactics to disrupt the arms fair.
At every DSEi arms fair since 2005 , illegal weapons have been promoted for sale . This includes weapons designed specifically for torture, as well as cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines. At the last DSEi event, two companies (Tianjin MyWay International of China and Magforce International of France) were identified as promoting illegal torture weapons including fetters, electric stun batons and stun guns. In the absence of any meaningful response from the state, a group of activists (having ourselves faced criminal charges for disrupting the arms fair) sought to privately prosecute the arms dealers for the promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEi. The arms companies were compelled to attend court, and the matter proceeded as far as being listed for trial. However, following intervention by senior directors at the CPS, the case was unexpectedly shut down. In defiance of pressures not to speak out about what happened, the film Arms Trade On Trial has been released.