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The New Arab

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia to face renewed legal challenge

Protesters have attempted to block the UK's support of Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2018

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UK rights groups will mount a fresh legal challenge aiming to block UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia which it alleges are being used in the murderous conflict in Yemen.
The UK's Court of Appeal issued a ruling on Friday to allow campaigners to launch a fresh legal challenge against the British government's arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Anti-war activists from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) were told they could bring their case, which seeks to block export licenses for British fighter jets, bombs and other weapons allegedly being used in the Saudi-led coalition's brutal war in Yemen, to the appeals court after the case was lost in the High Court in July last year.

The case will reportedly be heard by the Court of Appeal in the coming months.

Andrew Smith, CAAT's media coordinator, said the organisation believed the sales were immoral and must be ruled illegal.

"The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has killed thousands of people and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world," Smith said in a statement following Friday's ruling.

"Despite this, the Saudi regime has been armed and supported every step of the way by successive UK governments. We believe that these arms sales are immoral, and are confident that the Court of Appeal will agree that they are unlawful."

London-based charity Save the Children also supported the the ruling, highlighting the devastating effects of the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen.
More than 16,000 air raids have occurred across the country, including attacks on schools, hospitals and markets - one air raid every ninety minutes for the last three years. During the same period the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"We welcome the Court of Appeal's decision, but the battle isn't over yet. The UK Government continues to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia despite the risk those same weapons could be used against civilians in the brutal war in Yemen," the group said in a statement on Friday.

"More than 16,000 air raids have occurred across the country, including attacks on schools, hospitals and markets - one air raid every ninety minutes for the last three years. During the same period the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All while Yemen has become the world's largest humanitarian crisis," the statement added.

The group contend that the UK government has "both a moral and legal obligation to ensure British-made weapons aren't killing and maiming children in Yemen."

The conflict has so far killed and injured at least 6,000 children, in what the UN describes as an 'entirely manmade' catastrophe, according to Save the Children.

The British government sold 48 new Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia in March, despite vociferous domestic opposition. The two powers also signed a £100 million aid deal purportedly to provide assistance in famine-striken countries including Yemen, and was labelled "hypocritical" by the UK opposition.

At the same time, the UK has urged Iran to stop supplying Yemen's Houthi rebels with weapons, which it alleges "fuels regional tensions" and "poses threats to international peace and security".


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