Let’s see if we’ve got this right: Not only is the Conservative Government providing arms to Saudi Arabia in order to help that country violate international humanitarian law, but the Tories also colluded with the Saudis in order to put Saudi Arabia on the United Nations’ human rights council.
Tories never do anything for free. What are they getting in return?
The government has been put on notice that it is in breach of international law for allowing the export of British-made missiles and military equipment to Saudi Arabia that might have been used to kill civilians.
The hugely embarrassing accusation comes after human rights groups, the European parliament and the UN all expressed concerns about Saudi-led coalition attacks in Yemen. Lawyers acting for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) have stepped up legal proceedings against the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which approves export licences, accusing it of failing in its legal duty to take steps to prevent and suppress violations of international humanitarian law.
In a 19-page legal letter seen by the Observer, CAAT warns that the government’s refusal to suspend current licences to Saudi Arabia, and its decision “to continue the granting of new licences” for military equipment that may be destined for use in Yemen, is unlawful. The letter cites article two of the EU Council Common Position on arms sales, which would compel the UK to deny an export licence if there was “a clear risk” that equipment might be used in a violation of international humanitarian law.
Lawyers for CAAT have given the government 14 days to suspend licences allowing the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, pending the outcome of a review of its obligations under EU law and its own licensing criteria. A failure to comply would see proceedings against the government, which would force it to explain in the high court what steps it has taken to ensure that UK military hardware is not being used in breach of international law.
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