UK court to consider whether Saudi arms sales are legal

UK court to consider whether Saudi arms sales are legal
The UK Court of Appeal will hear an appeal to overturn arms sales to Saudi Arabia as the humanitarian condition in Yemen continues to deteriorate.
2 min read
08 April, 2019
Civilians have been disproportionately affected by the Yemen war [Getty]

The UK Court of Appeal in London will hear an appeal to overturn a 2017 High Court judgment which allows the UK government to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia, despite them being used to bomb Yemen, activists say.

The court on Tuesday will hear the appeal, brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), as a part of the wider campaign to ban UK arms deals to Saudi Arabia.

"UK-made weapons have played a central role in the four year Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen. The results have been catastrophic, with tens of thousands of people killed and vital infrastructure destroyed," said Andrew Smith of CAAT.

"We believe that these arms sales are immoral, and are confident that the Court of Appeal will agree that they are unlawful."

The UK has since 2015 licensed £4.7 billion ($6.1 billion) worth of arms to the deadly Saudi regime.

CAAT have included a joint intervention from rights groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Watch UK and Oxfam.

Continental boycott

The move comes just over a week after Germany decided to extend a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, introduced in October 2018, despite protests from its EU neighbours.

Germany imposed the ban following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul last year.

Germany said it would push for jointly produced weapons not to be used in the war in Yemen and for no "fully assembled" products to be delivered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE through the end of this year.

At the time, the ban triggered anger from EU partners France and UK.

The Yemen war entered its fourth year late last month. Described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations, the war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi and UAE backed government has left millions on the brink of famine.

At least 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Yemen war since March 2015, although rights groups say the death toll is much higher.

British and American-made bombs may have killed or injured more than 1,000 Yemeni civilians, including women and children