The high court in Britain has given the green light for a legal review of the country’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid widespread civilian deaths in Yemen.
The judicial review will decide whether the weapons sold to Saudi Arabia breach British and European weapons export laws.
Leigh Day solicitors, on behalf of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), called on the UK government to suspend all current export licenses to Saudi Arabia and reject all the new ones because there was a significant chance of any weapons sold there being used for human rights abuses in Yemen.
“We certainly welcome that this judicial review will give these arms sales the full scrutiny it deserves,” CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith told the Guardian
“These arms sales should have never been approved in the first place: Saudi Arabia has an abhorrent human rights record and it has created a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen,” Smith said.
British sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf have faced strict scrutiny since Riyadh began bombing Yemen in March 2015, killing thousands of civilians .
Saudi Arabia is Britain’s largest weapons client. The UK government has sold over $3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing of Yemen began.
A UN report leaked to the Guardian in January found “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians in the Saudi-led strikes. The report found 119 strikes that it said violated international humanitarian law, including attacks on health facilities, schools, wedding parties and camps for internally displaced people and refugees.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen in a bid to bring the country’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, back to power and undermine the Ansarullah movement. More than 10,000 people have reportedly been killed since then.