This month Heckler & Koch employees will face legal proceedings in Germany for illegally selling firearms to Mexico.
Six former employees, including two former executives, are on trial in Stuttgart for the violation of Germany’s War Weapons Control Act and the Foreign Trade Act. It is alleged that the company sold approximately 4,500 G36 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 illegally.
The charges were initially filed eight years ago by anti-arms trade activist Jürgen Grässlin, of the RüstungInformationsBüro (Arms Information Office). It is reported that HK-made rifles were used during a number of police shootings including the shooting of students in Iguala, Guerrero.
In the run up to the legal proceedings Heckler & Koch issued this statement in response:
In the run-up to the trial of former employees of Heckler & Koch GmbH at Stuttgart Regional Court starting Tuesday, May 15, 2018, the company has pointed out that Heckler & Koch has not only fully cooperated since the beginning of the investigation, but has also actively contributed to the clarification of the incidents and commissioned a comprehensive special investigation. The results of this investigation report have been made available to the authorities.
Heckler & Koch is aware of its social and legal responsibility. As a result of the incidents, the company has made drastic and extensive changes to prevent such events from occurring in the future.
Thus, the sales strategy was fundamentally changed and new ethical standards established. Since then, our products have only been supplied to states that fulfill clear and comprehensible criteria as “green countries”. This includes states that belong to the EU or NATO, or that have association agreements with NATO and other additional requirements.
In addition, Heckler & Koch has pioneered internal compliance management systems that consistently increase the sense of responsibility of the company and its employees and, in addition, rigorously audit each potential distribution partner. In addition, a newly defined Code of Conduct for Employees, the guidelines on “Anti-Corruption” and “Antitrust Law” and the “Ethical Business Principles” shape the binding corporate mission statement.
This far-reaching change is the clear signal both internally and externally that Heckler & Koch is aware of its social responsibility and accepts it with great commitment and the necessary care.
Despite this the defendants deny the allegations in court, arguing that the firearms were delivered to the Mexican authorities who then undertook the onward sale of the guns within Mexico. The ‘green countries’ initiative the press release mentions preclude the company from selling to some major emerging markets including not just Mexico but also Israel, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and the entirety of Africa.
When sales of the G36 to Mexico were subsequently halted, partially due to the Mexican government’s cost concerns, production of the indigenous FX-05 Xiuhcoatl began. The FX-05 owes its external appearance and some of its intrnal design to the G36.