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Lawyers say government supply of arms to Saudi breaks law

Categories: Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 17/12/2015 | Views: 1260
The UK Government is breaking national, EU and international law and policy by supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia in the context of its military intervention and bombing campaign in Yemen according to an analysis by eminent international law experts commissioned by Amnesty International and Saferworld, both members of the Control Arms coalition. (Ekklesia)

The lawyers, Professor Philippe Sands QC, Professor Andrew Clapham and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh of Matrix Chambers, conclude in their comprehensive legal opinion that, on the basis of the information available, the UK Government is acting in breach of its obligations arising under the UK’s Consolidated Criteria on arms exports, the EU Common Position on Arms Exports and the Arms Trade Treaty by continuing to authorise transfers of weapons and related items to Saudi Arabia within the scope of those instruments, capable of being used in Yemen.

They conclude that "any authorisation by the UK of the transfer of weapons and related items to Saudi Arabia… in circumstances where such weapons are capable of being used in the conflict in Yemen, including to support its blockade of Yemeni territory, and in circumstances where their end-use is not restricted, would constitute a breach by the UK of its obligations under domestic, European and international law.”

They also conclude that the UK Government can properly be deemed to have "actual knowledge... of the use by Saudi Arabia of weapons, including UK-supplied weapons, in attacks directed against civilians and civilians objects, in violation of international law", since at least May 2015.

The UK Government asserts that it is not taking an active part in the military campaign in Yemen. However, the UK has issued more than 100 licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the State began bombing Yemen in March 2015. For the period January to June 2015, licences for exports to Saudi Arabia were worth more than £l.75 billion, the vast majority of which (by value) appear to be for combat aircraft and air-delivered bombs for the use of the Royal Saudi Air Force.       Read more   

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