Britain broke the law on Saudi arms exports, court rules

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British government violated the law by allowing arms deal to Saudi Arabia that might have been bring into action in the war in Yemen, an English court made decision on thursday after activists said “there was evidence the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.” The court’s decision does not mean Britain should instantly stop the arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it means that there will be a stay on the giving new export licenses to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. They are also Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser. The United Nations mentioned the dispute in Yemen which has killed tens of thousands of people including thousands of civilians as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade tells “British bombs and fighter jets are fueling violence in Yemen, where a Saudi led war against Iran backed rebels has raged since 2015.” Three judges said that “the British government had made no attempt to find out whether the Saudi led coalition had breached international law.” Terence Etherton, England’s second most senior judge said “The Court of Appeal has concluded that the process of decision making by the government was wrong in law in one significant respect.

The government made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past during the Yemen conflict.” International Trade Minister Liam Fox said he is not satisfied with the judgment and would seek permission to appeal. He added “Alongside this we are carefully considering the implications of the judgment for decision making.While we do this we will not grant any new licenses for export to Saudi Arabia and it’s coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen.”

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Britain is the world’s sixth largest seller of arms after the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. British government is arranging a multi billion pound deal to sell 48 new Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir told the reporters in London that “Iran would be the only beneficiary of cutting off arms exports to the kingdom or its regional allies.The coalition is fighting a legitimate war at the behest of a legitimate government to stop Iran and its proxies from taking over a strategically important country so the only beneficiary of a cut off of weapons to the coalition is going to be Iran.”

The war has killed tens of thousands of people including civilians and children, has put 10 million people at risk of extreme scarcity of food and the world’s worst cholera outbreak. Rights groups and Britain’s opposition Labour Party welcomed the judgment of court.They said “British ministers had wilfully disregarded evidence that Saudi Arabia was violating international humanitarian law in Yemen, while nevertheless continuing to supply Riyadh with weapons. The trade minister told the reporters that “Britain had always taken it’s export control obligations very seriously and would continue to do so. Our whole assessment has been infused with international humanitarian law considerations indeed everything was looked at through the prism of IHL.”

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