Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
The Australian Government today introduced legislation amending the Criminal Code to ban the use of cluster munitions.
The Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition Bill) 2010 will allow Australia to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions and will make it an offence to:
- use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer cluster munitions; and
- assist, encourage or induce anyone to undertake these activities.
As part of our commitment to a world free from cluster munitions, the Australian Government signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008.
The Convention bans cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, and establishes a framework for cooperation and assistance that ensures adequate provision of care and rehabilitation for victims, clearance of cluster munitions contaminated areas, risk education and the destruction of stockpiles.
“This Bill will strengthen Australia’s legal framework regarding weapons that cause such significant and indiscriminate damage to civilians, and is a significant step towards ensuring Australia’s law is consistent with this important Convention,” Mr McClelland said.
“The Convention seeks to reduce deaths and injuries from these devices and improve the quality of life for victims and their families.”
The Bill contains provisions that allow Australia to continue to undertake military cooperation and operations, consistent with the Convention, with allies that have not signed the Convention.
Australia will also be able to continue to acquire and retain a limited number of cluster munitions for training in detection, clearance and destruction techniques, as well as the development of cluster munitions counter-measures.
Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith welcomed the Bill and said, “the Government will ensure that the doctrine, procedures, rules and directives of the Australian Defence Force are consistent with the Convention, which I was very pleased to sign on behalf of Australia in Oslo in December 2008.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd said the Mine Action Strategy for the Australian aid program 2010-2014 supported efforts to assist victims internationally, as well as efforts to clear and destroy the remnants of cluster munitions in countries that have been affected by their use.
“Australia has pledged $100 million over five years to reduce the threat and devastating impact of cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. This is the largest commitment ever made by Australia to mine action.”
Australia will send a high level delegation to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, which will be held in Laos from 9 to 12 November 2010.
Once Australia has taken all the measures necessary to implement the Convention, the Government will move as quickly as possible to ratify the Convention.
Media Contact: Daniel Gleeson (McClelland) 0417 886 111
Mary Bagnall (Smith) 0434 665 067
Kate Sieper (Rudd) 0488 484 689
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