The leader of the British opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn, says a Labour government will halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Corbyn made the remarks during a speech on the fourth day of the annual Labour Party Conference in Liverpool in northwest England on Wednesday.
The Labour leader said where there are credible reports of human rights abuses or war crimes being committed, British arms sales will be suspended.
He pointed out that this will start with Saudi Arabia, which is being accused of indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Yemen with weapons supplied by the West.
Corbyn denounced the continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, “a country that the United Nations says is committing repeated violations of international humanitarian law war crimes in Yemen.”
“So, today, I make it clear that under a Labour government, when there are credible reports of human rights abuses or war crimes being committed, British arms sales will be suspended, starting with Saudi Arabia,” he announced.
A number of UK lawmakers have called on London to halt the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia until an inquiry into Riyadh’s human rights violations in Yemen is complete.
The Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC) has raised serious concerns about the UK’s commitment to international law regarding the sale of arms.
CAEC inquiry chair Chris White said last week the government must now take urgent action in halting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The British government’s resistance to end Saudi arms sales adds strength to Britain’s seemingly untouchable relationship with the House of Saud. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May staunchly defended selling arms to the kingdom despite facing criticism for being supportive of a human rights violator.
Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world and since 2010, two-thirds of weapons have reportedly gone to the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, Israel and Bahrain were some of the top buyers of British arms, according to data by the UK Trade and Investment, a government body that promotes British exports overseas.
According to the Independent, Saudis have received British bombs, missiles, and fighter jets, which it has been using in its military aggression against Yemen.
Britain signed off a contract worth £3.3 billion of arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the first year of the country’s bombardment of Yemen, which included drones, helicopters, and other aircraft.
Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen since March 2015, with the UN putting the death toll at 10,000. The offensive was launched to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch sally of Riyadh, who has resigned as Yemen’s president.