UK Government set to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia

2020/07/1594128697.jpg
Read: 937     17:53     07 July 2020    

The UK Government will begin selling arms to Saudi Arabia again after assessing the country could be using them to commit war crimes.


Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, said ministers had reviewed how arms export licences are granted following an order to comply with a court ruling suspending the sales.

The Tory MP concluded that though “credible incidents of concern” relating to Saudi forces’ conduct had been classed as “possible” breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), the UK Government viewed them as isolated incidents.

Her announcement came one day after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would be launching a sanctions regime targeting those who have “committed the gravest human rights violations”.

A statement said: "The incidents which have been assessed to be possible violations of IHL occurred at different times, in different circumstances and for different reasons.

"The undertaking that my predecessor gave to the court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away."

Five years ago a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen against Houthi rebels, who are fighting the internationally recognised government. Human rights organisation and the United Nations have accused the Saudi-led forces of breaching IHL – including by bombing schools, hospitals, weddings and food infrastructure.

An estimated 100,000 lives have been lost in the conflict and 80% of Yemenis are thought to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, the UK Government has issued export licences relating to bombs, missiles and other types or ordinance worth £2.5 billion.

In a notice to exporters released today the UK Government said: "The broader commitment that was given to parliament, relating to licences for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners ... no longer applies.

“The Government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year."

In June of last year, the Court of Appeal decided the UK Government had acted unlawfully by licencing the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces to be used in Yemen without assessing whether incidents in the conflict had breached IHL.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade has spoken out against today’s announcement, calling the UK Government’s move “disgraceful and morally bankrupt”.

The group rejected the UK Government’s view that the “possible” IHL breaches were isolated incidents, saying: "The evidence shows a clear pattern of heinous and appalling breaches of international humanitarian law by a coalition which has repeatedly targeted civilian gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and market places.

“The Government claims that these are isolated incidents, but how many hundreds of isolated incidents would it take for the Government to stop supplying the weaponry?”

The National

 



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News Line

UK Government set to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia

2020/07/1594128697.jpg
Read: 938     17:53     07 July 2020    

The UK Government will begin selling arms to Saudi Arabia again after assessing the country could be using them to commit war crimes.


Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, said ministers had reviewed how arms export licences are granted following an order to comply with a court ruling suspending the sales.

The Tory MP concluded that though “credible incidents of concern” relating to Saudi forces’ conduct had been classed as “possible” breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), the UK Government viewed them as isolated incidents.

Her announcement came one day after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would be launching a sanctions regime targeting those who have “committed the gravest human rights violations”.

A statement said: "The incidents which have been assessed to be possible violations of IHL occurred at different times, in different circumstances and for different reasons.

"The undertaking that my predecessor gave to the court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away."

Five years ago a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen against Houthi rebels, who are fighting the internationally recognised government. Human rights organisation and the United Nations have accused the Saudi-led forces of breaching IHL – including by bombing schools, hospitals, weddings and food infrastructure.

An estimated 100,000 lives have been lost in the conflict and 80% of Yemenis are thought to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, the UK Government has issued export licences relating to bombs, missiles and other types or ordinance worth £2.5 billion.

In a notice to exporters released today the UK Government said: "The broader commitment that was given to parliament, relating to licences for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners ... no longer applies.

“The Government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year."

In June of last year, the Court of Appeal decided the UK Government had acted unlawfully by licencing the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces to be used in Yemen without assessing whether incidents in the conflict had breached IHL.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade has spoken out against today’s announcement, calling the UK Government’s move “disgraceful and morally bankrupt”.

The group rejected the UK Government’s view that the “possible” IHL breaches were isolated incidents, saying: "The evidence shows a clear pattern of heinous and appalling breaches of international humanitarian law by a coalition which has repeatedly targeted civilian gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and market places.

“The Government claims that these are isolated incidents, but how many hundreds of isolated incidents would it take for the Government to stop supplying the weaponry?”

The National

 



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