Amnesty International has expressed alarm after one of its human rights experts was allegedly refused entry to the Defence and Security Equipment international arms fair.
Oliver Sprague, Amnesty UK’s Arms Control Programme Director, says he was prevented from entering the DSEi event at the ExCel conference centre on Wednesday.
Sprague registered beforehand and had attended previous DSEi arms fairs without incident, but says he was refused entry with no explanation other than that he “didn’t meet the criteria for registration”.
Amnesty says it suspects event organisers wished to avoid bad publicity if the human rights experts were to find any breaches of rules by exhibitors at the event, which has a chequered history.
In 2009, Mr Sprague was officially invited to give a speech on strengthening arms control regulations at the same fair alongside then Defence Minister Quentin Davies.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Pakistan are given the red-carpet treatment at DSEi, yet we’re shown the door. It’s outrageous and deeply disturbing.
Every year we’ve monitored the fair and - worryingly enough - every year we've actually found torture or other illegal equipment being advertised.
The organisers will doubtless be delighted to have avoided headlines about leg-irons or electro-shock batons being offered for sale at DSEi, but the truth is we simply don’t know what horrendous equipment might be advertised for sale at Docklands this year.
A spokesperson for DSEi said:
>This week’s DSEi was attended by 30,000 visitors and we can’t comment on the individual applications for accreditation.
Among those visitors include 930 journalists from outlets including The BBC, The Times and Al Jazeera. DSEi has also been attended by a number of MPs.
i100.co.uk has contacted the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for comment.