HELSINKI ― An investigative report by Finland’s Chancellor of Justice has cleared the center-right government of any impropriety or irregularities in the awarding of a military export licence to Patria to cover the sale of armored personnel carriers to the United Arab Emirates.
The CoJ’s ruling stated that the government’s decision to approve the UAE export deal complied with all laws regulating the sale of weapons systems and military equipment to foreign states. The CoJ’s ruling clears the way for Patria to begin APC deliveries to the UAE.
“The export deal is not without controversy. In terms of abiding by the letter of the law, the sale and export agreement conformed to all rules and regulations. That said, the government made its decision knowing the UAE is involved in a civil war conflict in Yemen,” Justice Chancellor Tuomas Pöysti said.
The CoJ made special mention of the Ministry of Defence in its report, recommending it improve consultative communications with the United Nations Human Rights Council and other U.N. organizations before approving arms export licenses to countries and regions involved in armed conflict.
The Finnish government issued two separate export license permit approvals to Patria in 2015 and 2018. The first export permit was expedited without objection. However, the second permit sought in 2018 raised questions over the possible use of Patria APCs by the UAE in Yemen.
“Although the export permit in 2018 is more questionable, given that the UAE is involved in a conflict in Yemen, the decision to grant an export permit complied with all aspects of Finnish law,” Pöysti said.
The CoJ, as part of its inquiries into the 2018 export permit, investigated reports of sightings of Patria AMVs deployed by UAE forces in Yemen. The CoJ found that unconfirmed sightings weighed on the report but did not impact its final decision. This was strictly based on the lawfulness, under existing legislation, of the export licence granted to Patria.
Finland’s arms export laws conform to standards set by the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty, in addition to the European Union’s rules governing oversight of defense companies. The export-license process also takes other factors into account, such as human rights, national security and political stability in the region to where military equipment is being sold.
The Finnish state holds 50.5 percent of the shares in Patria. The other 49.5 percent of shares are owned by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace.
The export license obtained by Patria in 2016 covered the delivery of an unspecified number of eight-wheel drive AMVs to the UAE. The delivery is expected to be within the range of 40 to 90 units if all options are exercised. The contract price agreed with the UAE excludes the supply of weapons systems.
Gerard O'Dwyer is the Scandinavian affairs correspondent for Defense News.