- Secretary of State for International Trade confirms further licensing of equipment to Saudi for use in Yemen, despite Court ban
- This follows revelations last week that the Government had already breached the Court ruling on at least two occasions
- UK has licensed at least £5.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since war in Yemen began in March 2015
The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, has told parliament that the Government breached a Court of Appeal ruling by granting further licences for military equipment to the Saudi-led coalition for use in Yemen. This follows revelations last week that the Government had breached the ruling on at least two occasions.
In June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law. The Government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to retake the decisions on extant licences in a lawful manner. This followed a case brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:
- £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
- £2.5 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
In reality the figures are likely to be a great deal higher, with most bombs and missiles being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system.
The Saudi regime was among attendees at the DSEI arms fair in London earlier this month, one of the biggest arms fairs in the world.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
We are always being told how rigorous and robust arms export controls supposedly are, but this shows that nothing could be further from the truth. The system is clearly broken and unfit for purpose. This is symptomatic of a policy that puts arms sales ahead of human rights.
Even if it was in error, it is clear that the Government can not be trusted to uphold the ruling of the Court of Appeal. There can be no more excuses. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in a war that has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Despite the destruction, the Government has shown a total disregard for the people of Yemen. There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the wider coalition bombing Yemen.