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Motion of contempt sought against Hammond over Saudi war


British lawmaker Ann Clwyd has called for a probe into statements made by Philip Hammond, the former UK foreign secretary, on the Saudi war on Yemen.  

Hammond, who is now the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, originally stated that the Saudi actions in Yemen comply with humanitarian law.

The British Foreign Office later changed the stance claiming the UK is unable to assess whether Saudi Arabia breached international humanitarian law in Yemen.

Labour MP Ann Clwyd has said the discrepancies in statements are serious and wants to know if the UK’s approach is being influenced by the fact that Britain is a major arms exporter to Saudi Arabia.

Clywd added that Saudi Arabia, using British bombs and planes may have committed war crimes against Yemeni civilians.

“For some time, Saudi Arabia – using British bombs and planes – may have committed war crimes on Yemeni civilians,” she said.

“UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia topped £3.3bn in the first year of the Saudi-led conflict in the Yemen. The UN Panel of Experts on the Yemen has listed 119 coalition exercises relating to war violations, with Human Rights Watch reporting 36 unlawful strikes – some of which may amount to war crimes – which have killed at least 550 civilians since the conflict began. We need to know the truth,” she added.

Amnesty International said it was shocked that the UK government misled the parliament on the Saudi war in Yemen.

“We were as shocked as anyone when Philip Hammond slipped out that jaw-dropping admission that the Government had misled Parliament on a matter as grave as war crimes in Yemen,” Amnesty’s Lucy Wake said.

“Ministers have spent more than a year ignoring or even trying to cast doubt on mounting evidence of the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition’s indiscriminate attacks on Yemeni schools, hospitals and homes – all while the UK has sold billions of pounds worth of weapons to Riyadh,” she stated.

“Late though it is, the Government now needs to announce an immediate halt to UK arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition and see that a full inquiry is set up into what has gone wrong with our arms exports control systems,” he noted.

Yemen has been under military strikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, 2015. The Saudi war was launched in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has resigned as Yemen’s president but seeks to grab power.

The Houthi Ansarullah fighters took over state matters after Hadi’s resignation and his escape from the capital.

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