Thursday, June 20, 2019

Illegal but still no ban

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia that were used in Yemen have been declared unlawful by the court of appeal because they contributed to indiscriminate civilian casualties in the bombing campaign from forces led by the Gulf kingdom.

The ruling from three senior judges follows a challenge brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade, which had accused the UK government of licensing arms sales when there was a clear risk that their use could breach international humanitarian law.

In its judgment in London the court of appeal ruled that “the process of decision-making by the government was wrong in law in one significant respect” in that the government “made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so”.

Unfortunately for innocent the people in Yemen, the judgement added, it added: “The decision of the court today does not mean that licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia must immediately be suspended.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “We welcome this verdict but it should never have taken a court case brought by campaigners to force the government to follow its own rules. The Saudi Arabian regime is one of the most brutal and repressive in the world, yet, for decades, it has been the largest buyer of UK-made arms. No matter what atrocities it has inflicted, the Saudi regime has been able to count on the uncritical political and military support of the UK. The bombing has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. UK arms companies have profited every step of the way. The arms sales must stop immediately.”

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