UK government's sale of arms to Saudis ruled lawful

Saudi to host G20 summit in 2020

Saudi Arabia to host G20 summit in 2020

The UK High Court has reviewed a plea against the country's arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the light of the kingdom's bloodshed in Yemen, and is due to issue its opinion, which could stop the sales.

The court has reportedly been studying the case which was lodged by the UK-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade NGO on Friday, July 7. "We therefore dismiss the claim".

The court also said the British government had access to "a wider and qualitatively more sophisticated range of information than that available to the claimant's sources", although campaigners said the evidence they had gathered should be taken seriously.

"We hope very much the court of appeal will consider CAAT's claim as a matter of priority".

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: 'If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for worldwide humanitarian law.

'Every day we are hearing new and horrifying stories about the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on the people of Yemen. Thousands have been killed while vital and lifesaving infrastructure has been destroyed.

Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Saudi minister of State, cabinet member and president of Saudi Arabia's delegation participating in G20 Hamburg stressed that the kingdom already had a "strong and old relationship with Africa in various economic and developmental aspects". For months after this, the UK Government denied that there was reliable evidence of the use of UK cluster munitions by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, but in December Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons that Saudi Arabia had given the UK a commitment over ceasing its use UK cluster bombs in Yemen.

'Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real. Saudi processes and procedures have been put in place to secure respect for the principles of International Humanitarian Law ...

It attacked the refusal of the Secretary of State for International Trade to suspend export licences for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment.

But lawyers for CAAT argued during hearings in the high court in London in February that the government was overlooking significant concerns, including those raised by the United Nations and its own licensing officials, over how Saudi Arabia was conducting its two-year campaign in Yemen.

More than £3.3 billion worth of arms has been sold to the Gulf state since it began bombing neighbouring Yemen in March 2015.

Today's judgement follows a three-day hearing in February at which law firm Leigh Day, on behalf of CAAT, argued that a range of global organisations including the European Parliament and many humanitarian NGOs, have condemned the ongoing Saudi air strikes against Yemen as unlawful.

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