Qatar to get shipment of Swiss-made ammunition

Ready for action: the Lusail Iconic football stadium in Doha. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Swiss government said on Friday it had found “no overriding reasons” to block the export of 6,000 pieces of ammunition to Qatar.

This content was published on September 23, 2022 minutes

“In its evaluation of the situation, the Federal Council considered all the assessment criteria foreseen by the law [on weapons exports],” the executive wroteExternal link in a two-paragraph statement. No justification for vetoeing the deal was found.

The 27mm pieces are for use in revolver cannons onboard the European-built Eurofighter Typhoon jet, the government said. It did not name the arms manufacturer involved.

In line with the country’s neutrality, Swiss weapons exports rules prohibit sending arms to countries involved in a civil or international war; they also stipulate that purchasing countries must ask permission from Bern before forwarding the weapons on to a third country – a requirement that sparked debates earlier this year when Bern vetoed the re-export of ammunition by Germany to Ukraine.

Qatar has not been involved in an international conflict since it pulled out of a military alliance involved in the war in Yemen in 2017. However, human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the export of arms to a country which they say has a tainted record. On Friday, reacting to the latest case, the pacificist Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSOA) said it was “shameful” to sell weapons to a country it described as “clearly autocratic, where human rights barely count”.

Last year, it emerged that Swiss weaponry would also be involved in protecting stadiums during the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, which is set to begin in November. The Gulf State bought two air-defence systems worth some CHF210 million ($214 million). The deal shot Qatar to the top of the list of Swiss arms exports, which rose more than 40% to CHF516 million in the first half of this year.

Human rights

Meanwhile, in an unrelated interview publishedExternal link in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper on Friday, the Qatari Ambassador to Switzerland defended his country’s stance towards minority groups such as homosexuals, as well as the labour laws governing the conditions of thousands of migrant workers. Qatar has made significant reforms to give workers better rights, said Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz Al Kuwari – including through new laws which have been recognised by groups such as Amnesty International. Authorities are working to ensure the regulations are implemented, he said.  

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