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Joint Swiss-UAE investigation commission set up

Bern, 20.07.2012 - Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have set up a joint investigation commission in connection with the alleged discovery in Syria of Swiss hand grenades. The commission took up its work on Tuesday. Its primary aim is to clarify whether the hand grenades supplied to the UAE in 2003 were passed on. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO has lifted the provisional suspension of licences issued for war materiel imposed as an immediate measure. Pending licence applications are to remain suspended until further notice however.

Images have been published in the media in recent weeks of Swiss-manufactured hand grenades allegedly found in Syria. There has, however, been no categorical confirmation as yet of where the grenades were found. Since the entry into force of the War Materiel Act on 1 April 1998 there have been no exports of war materiel from Switzerland to Syria. According to initial findings, the hand grenades photographed originate from a shipment made by RUAG to the United Arab Emirates in 2003. A total of 225,162 hand grenades were exported to the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates. A non re-export declaration was signed at director level by the UAE armed forces.

SECO and the UAE authorities take very seriously reports in the media and have therefore decided to set up a joint investigation commission. The commission’s primary aim is to clarify whether the hand grenades supplied to the UAE in 2003 were passed on. SECO will represent Switzerland on the commission.

SECO has decided to lift the provisional suspension of licences already issued, which was imposed as an immediate measure. The purpose of the provisional measure was to allow the necessary inquiries to be initiated with due diligence and free of time constraints. This goal has been achieved with the creation of the investigation commission. Furthermore, based on the legal provisions of the War Materiel Act and on current practice, it would not have been appropriate to revoke the licences. In view of the UAE’s cooperation, further reaching measures of a political nature would be inappropriate at the present time. The companies concerned are therefore able to meet their contractual obligations and do not risk facing a penalty. Pending licence applications will remain suspended however. A decision regarding further reaching measures can only be taken once the facts of the matter have been sufficiently clarified.

Address for enquiries:

Marie Avet, SECO, Communications, Tel. +41 (31) 322 40 20

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Internet: http://www.seco.admin.ch
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