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Banks urged to end loans for cluster bomb makers
Thousands have backed a campaign calling for a taxpayer-funded bank to stop investing in companies that manufacture cluster bombs banned under UK law. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds TSB, HSBC and Barclays are among those to have allegedly exploited a loophole allowing indirect investment in the weapons, outlawed in over 30 countries last year as part of an international treaty. prevent indirect investment in cluster munition producing companies. Only four countries Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand and Luxembourg have made it illegal for banks to invest indirectly in cluster bombs. The majority of countries that have signed the treaty outlawing the use and production of the weapons continue to allow investment in them. The bombs, used most recently in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are produced in countries that refused to sign up to the ban, including China, Russia and America. The US government has said it believes cluster bombs are legitimate weapons that have a clear military utility in combat. RBS said it did not recognise the claims made in the IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaaneren report. A spokesperson said: This is a serious issue and we are engaging with the writers of the report to understand these allegations. We have received assurances from our clients that that they are not in breach of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.


Civilian casualties
A campaign organised by human rights group Amnesty International has seen more than 10,000 people send letters to RBS which is 84 per cent publicly owned calling for it to halt investment in US-based companies producing the bombs. The weapons have been linked to thousands of civilian casualties. Containing hundreds of small explosive submunitions or bomblets, they are designed to break open in mid-air, scattering over an area that can be the size of several football pitches. Oliver Sprague, Amnesty Internationals arms programme director, said: High street banks like Royal Bank of Scotland are making a mockery of UK law by shamefully investing in companies that make weapons the UK government and other countries have clearly and quite rightly banned.

International treaty
A US B1-B Lancer dropping cluster bombs. The American government believes they are legitimate weapons.

Assisting production
Cluster bombs are deadly and indiscriminate, causing devastation to civilians. They continue to kill years after wars have ended, as they frequently fail to go off when initially fused. Given the UK governments

clear decision to ban cluster munitions, no UK financial institutions should be assisting their production. According to a report by Dutch and Belgian campaign groups IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaaneren, in October 2010 RBS loaned 48 million to American arms manufacturer Alliant Techsystems, the US militarys largest supplier of munitions and a notorious cluster-bomb manufacturer. Other UK banks, including Barclays, HSBC and the 43 per cent state-owned Lloyds TSB, were revealed to have ties with cluster bomb manufacturers including Textron and Lockheed Martin. Between them they invested more than 110 million in arms manufacturers in 2009.

Investing in companies that manufacture cluster bombs is technically not illegal. But Laura Cheeseman, director of campaign group the Cluster Munition Coalition, believes that by helping finance the companies building the bombs, British banks are assisting in their production, which is itself banned under the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act.

Indirect investment
She said: We urge UK banks to immediately disinvest from companies that produce cluster munitions, to put in place comprehensive policies banning investment in these weapons and to work with civil society and the UK government on a voluntary code of conduct to

A Lloyds TSB spokesperson said the bank would not comment on specific customers and that it does not knowingly provide bank finance to support the manufacture of any weaponry that breaches UK, US, EU legislation or UN directives, or weapons which have been outlawed by international treaty including anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. A Barclays Group spokesperson said the bank provides financial services to the defence sector but has a policy in place forbidding financing trade in landmines, cluster bombs or any torture equipment. HSBC said that, since the publication of the Pax Christi report, it has brought in a new policy that forbids investment in companies manufacturing cluster munitions.


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