Britain complies with Saudi Arabia arms order
LONDON (UK) – Britain has adhered to a court order over its decisions on giving export licences to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, according to its trade minister on Tuesday. It meant that it can once again issue new licences to export arms to the kingdom.
The Court of Appeal last year declared officially that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been used in the war in Yemen.
The court concluded that Britain’s government had committed a mistake in law in its decision-making processes on arms export licences to Saudi Arabia. Activists said there was evidence that the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.
While the court’s decision did not mean Britain had to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it did mean it had to halt the granting of new export licenses to sell arms to the kingdom, which was Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser.
Trade minister Liz Truss said the government asserted “now re-taken the decisions that were the subject of judicial review on the correct legal basis, as required”.
She said in a written statement, “It follows that the undertaking (given) to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away.”
The legal action against the British government was brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which wants to put an end to the global arms trade. It also argued that British weapons were likely to have been used in Yemen in violation of human rights law.
Truss said the review found that Saudi Arabia had “genuine intent and the capacity to comply with IHL (International Humanitarian Law)”
She said, “On that basis, I have assessed that there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL.”
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.