Legal lacuna holds up helmet exports
By Lenin Amarawickrama
A lacuna in the law appears to be holding up what could be the first export of ballistic helmets made by a Sri Lankan firm, Harsha International, for peacekeeping forces in Iraq.

The company, which has also supplied body armour for United Nations mine clearing personnel, has received an order for 200 helmets from the Saudi Arabian government to be worn by its peace keeping troops deployed in Iraq.

But it is unable to fulfill the order because there apparently is no law or procedure for the export of such material from Sri Lanka. "We first received the 200-helmet order on May 14 and are ready to supply.

We queried about the customs procedure and then they referred the matter to the Defence Ministry. We're still waiting for the reply," said Ajitha Wijetunga, a director of the Harsha International. The company makes military defence equipment for both local and foreign markets.

Wijetunga said he had previously made and exported similar helmets to Japan and Italy but for civilian use. He said it appeared the problem was that there was no legal provision for the export of military-type ballistic helmets.

Wijetunga, a marine engineer, said he developed the helmet after doing his own research. His firm uses what's called Shield Aromide Technology developed in France. "Our helmet weighs only one kilo. It covers a wider area of the head than other helmets." The company has also received inquires from Cambodia and Bangladesh for its helmets.

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