Yemen: UK Court of Appeal has stated that the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia is unlawful


UPDATE : On 5 July 2019, Corbyn and the Westminster leaders of four other parties – the SNP’s Ian Blackford, the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable, Liz Saville Roberts of Plaid Cymru and Caroline Lucas from the Greens – called on Hunt and Johnson to hold a parliamentary or public inquiry into how the arms sales have been allowed to continue. Indeed, Ministers have asked the courts to set aside a landmark ruling that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful, a legal manoeuvre that prompted Jeremy Corbyn to accuse the Conservatives of prioritising military exports over civilian lives.

On 20 June 2019, the UK Court of Appeal has ruled that licensing exports of weapons and know-how to Saudi Arabia is unlawful. This astounding achievement is the result of a strong campaign led by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), a British organisation supported by Amnesty Internationaland Human Rights Watch.

According to several sources, “Britain does not merely supply the bombs that fall on Yemen – it provides the personnel and expertise that keep the war going.” This country represents a crucial ally of Saudi Arabia. Notwithstanding the formidable resources, the Saudi military is deficient in the expertise to use the weapons, especially the military aircrafts, supplied by the British country. For this reason, over 6000 British contractors have been sent to the military bases in Saudi Arabia to provide logistical support and training.

Concerning the number of military equipment sold to the Saudi Kingdom, it is still not possible to have reliable statistics, for the BAE Systems, UK’s biggest arms company, has approved three arms exports licencesin 2013 and 2014 which “permit the sale of an unlimited numberof bombs to Saudi Arabia without requiring disclosure of how many have been sold.”

The most shocking feature of these relations between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom is that the latter has always been aware of the fact that “double-tap” attacks have been occurring since the beginning of the war in Yemen and that hospitals have been targets of the Saudi raids.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) gladly welcomes the ruling of UK’s Court of Appeal. We fully support the activity of the CAAT. We call upon the UK government to take the steps necessary to halt the arms exports.