Refusal to implement ban on investment in cluster munitions looks like a bad April Fools' joke

31 March 2010

Refusal to implement ban on investment in cluster munitions looks like a bad April Fools' joke

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen is furious that acting Finance Minister Jan Kees and outgoing Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner are refusing to implement a ban on investment in cluster munitions. “Parliament gave its support to a motion from myself and Labour member Martijn Van Dam calling for such a ban," Van Velzen recalled. Under the Dutch system, parliamentary motions of this kind are under normal circumstances binding on the government. "I can only hope that the refusal to implement this ban is an April Fools' joke, although if that's the case it's a bad joke indeed," added the SP defence spokeswoman, who has requested a debate on the matter.

Krista van VelzenThe production, possession and use of cluster munition has been banned, but investment continues to be permitted. "That's contradictory and unacceptable," says Van Velzen. "Banks and pension funds must receive a clear message: investment in cluster munitions is unacceptable.”

The reason why the ministers are failing to implement the parliamentary motion is extraordinary, in Van Velzen's estimation. "There's no question of 'symbolic and counterproductive legislation', as they allege," she says "It's about preventing people from becoming victims of these revolting weapons. There's nothing 'symbolic' about that. There are still firms which invest in this rubbish and we should be fighting hard to stop this. How a ban on investing in clusterbombs could be counterproductive is, moreover, absolutely unclear. Is the government claiming that the Dutch banks and pension funds which don't invest in cluster bombs would in the event of a ban start to do so en masse? Surely they don't believe that? Legislation in other countries has shown, moreover, that such a ban can be solidly implemented."

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