Human rights advocates concerned after MFAT gave green light to military exports to countries on UN blacklist

Source: 1News

New Zealand companies have been allowed to export military equipment to countries blacklisted by the United Nations for killing children.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry approved exports to Saudi Arabia - and other nations - in 2016 and 2018 when they were on the blacklist for their actions in Yemen.

Some of the equipment sent includes the technology to help fire mortars.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman spoke to 1 NEWS about the revelations.

“We keep hearing more and more about what our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been allowing and now we find out we've literally been selling weapons to militaries who are literally killing children, it's devastating,” she said.

The UN blacklist for killing and maiming children in war doesn't come with sanctions - but operates as an international means of naming and shaming.

Human rights watchdogs say responsible countries shouldn't sell arms to nations on the blacklist.

“In 2018 certainly the numbers of children that had been killed were well known, so what evidence are they using to grant these permits to these countries?” Amnesty International executive director Meg de Ronde says.

The Government has appointed a former senior public servant to carry out a review into New Zealand's export controls.

Peace groups are eager to see the evidence that strict controls are in place.

“We really hope there isn't a number 8 wire here, she'll be right kind of attitude,” de Ronde says.