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20 Jun, 2019 10:24

‘Irrational & unlawful’: UK govt dealt landmark defeat over arms sales to Saudi Arabia

‘Irrational & unlawful’: UK govt dealt landmark defeat over arms sales to Saudi Arabia

In a legal challenge brought by anti-arms trade campaigners, three of the UK’s top judges concluded that it was “irrational and unlawful” of the government to allow arms sales to Saudi Arabia without making proper checks.

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that the British government has “made no attempt” to assess whether Riyadh had breached international humanitarian law in the Yemen war.

… the process of decision-making by the Government was wrong in law in one significant respect.

However, the judges said that their ruling does not mean that UK arms export licences to Saudi Arabia have to be suspended immediately.

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Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which brought the challenge, welcomed the verdict but insisted it shouldn’t have taken a court case to force the UK government to “follow its own rules.”

No matter what atrocities it has inflicted, the Saudi regime has been able to count on the uncritical political and military support of the UK.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was due to give a statement to parliament on Thursday afternoon, about how the government planned to respond to the judgement.

Latest figures estimate the death toll since 2016 in the civil war in Yemen, which the Saudi-led coalition has taken part in –although there is currently a ceasefire– at nearly 100,000, with around 11,700 civilians killed.

Saudi Arabia has led an alliance of mainly Arab governments as part of a military intervention in Yemen since the 2015 ouster of Yemeni President Mansour Hadi. Backed by a supply of arms from –and training by– Western allies, including the UK and the US, the coalition has been continuously accused of war crimes for striking civilian targets and for leading a blockade that has put millions of Yemenis on the brink of famine.

Also on rt.com UK slams Saudi beheadings, but arms sales for Riyadh's Yemen war still go on

The coalition denied targeting civilians on purpose and has conducted its own investigations into some of the airstrikes, but failed to find itself at fault. It also pinned the ‘collateral damage’ blame on rebels who’d sought cover among civilians.

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