Monday, July 10, 2017

The Court Clears the Government of Aiding and Abetting War Crimes

The UK's Export Control Act states that the British government "will not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law." The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) - a group of NGOs including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - argues that exports to Saudi Arabia currently breached this condition, given the likelihood of the weapons being used in the Saudi campaign in Yemen. CAAT had sought to block the export licenses for British-made fighter jets, bombs and other lethal weaponry they say the Saudi-led coalition is using - at least somewhat indiscriminately - in its military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen's civil war.

London's High Court ruled that the British government's arms sales to Saudi Arabia were lawful and could continue. Parts of the hearing and verdict were closed to the public. The court said that the classified information ("Closed material") brought forward in the case "provides valuable additional support for the conclusion that the decisions made by the Secretary of State not to suspend or cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia were rational." The court also claimed that the British government had access to a "wider and qualitatively more sophisticated range of information than that available to the claimant's sources" - a reference to the classified foreign office and military intelligence used in the case.

The Saudis had "sought positively to address concerns about International Humanitarian Law," the court said. "Saudi Arabia has been, and remains, genuinely committed to compliance with International Humanitarian Law; and there was no 'real risk' that there might be 'serious violations' of International Humanitarian Law (in its various manifestations) such that UK arm sales to Saudi Arabia should be suspended or canceled," the court said.

 The plaintiffs rejected claims of the British government being better informed than aid agencies.
"The suggestion that human rights researchers were rarely or never on the ground in Yemen, or relied on 'second-hand information,' not true," Human Rights Watch said.
"It has been documented by UN reports, by aid groups on the ground and by credible human rights organizations," said a statement put out by Save the Children.
The UN annual report on Yemen's civil war, and the related sanctions, said the Saudi-led coalition acting in support of the Yemeni government had carried out attacks that "may amount to war crimes."  

1 comment:

Matthew Culbert said...

Hogwash and whitewash combined combined obfuscation.