UK court: Saudi Arabia arms sales lawful

July 10, 2017 7:45 pm

The Royal Courts of Justice, London (file photo)

The High Court has reviewed a plea against the country’s arms sales to in the light of the fact that the kingdom is waging a bloody war against Yemen, deciding that the government’s weapons sales are not in contravention of the law.
The court had been studying the case lodged by the UK-based NGO ‘Campaign Against the Arms Trade’ since February. It issued its ruling on Monday, The Guardian reported.
Delivering an open judgment, Lord Justice Burnett, who heard the case with Justice Haddon-Cave, said, “We have concluded that the material decisions of the secretary of state were lawful. We therefore dismiss the claim.”
Documents revealed during the course of the trial had shown that the top civil servant in charge of the Export Control Organization had recommended a halt to the sales, but that ministers had not taken up this advice.
The judgment was “necessarily long and rather dense,” Burnett added.
Back at the time when the review began, Rosa Curling from the law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the NGO, had said she believed the decision to continue to grant new licenses for the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was “unlawful.” “There is increasingly evidence being unearthed that the Saudi-led coalition has committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen,” she had noted.
The European Council would oblige the UK to deny an export license if there is “a clear risk” that the arms might be used in violation of international humanitarian law.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 in a bid to restore Yemen’s former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, to power. Yemen’s crisis began after Hadi stepped down as president and refused to negotiate power-sharing with the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Yemeni children stand inside their house which was destroyed several months ago in an airstrike by Saudi Arabia, on March 12, 2016, in the capital Sana’a. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has also been generously rewarding the kingdom with hefty arms deals during the invasion. Both the UK and the US are further lending intelligence and logistical support to the bombing campaign.
In March, UK-based rights body Amnesty International condemned the US and UK for their “shameful” weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, saying Washington and London were fueling the serious human rights violations and war crimes in Yemen committed by Riyadh.
It said the countries had sold over $5 billion worth of weapons to the Riyadh regime since the onset of the invasion, more than 10 times the $450 million they have allegedly spent to help save Yemeni civilians.
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