Mon Jul 10, 2017 03:58PM
A file photo of a Eurofighter Typhoon, of the type the UK sold to Saudi Arabia.
A file photo of a Eurofighter Typhoon, of the type the UK sold to Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International says a recent UK court ruling that the British government is entitled to continue authorizing arms supplies to Saudi Arabia is a deadly blow to Yemeni civilians.

Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty James Lynch on Monday described the court ruling as “disappointing.”

“The verdict is a deadly blow for Yemenis under attack from a Saudi Arabia-led coalition bolstered by UK-manufactured weapons,” Lynch said, adding, “This is a deeply disappointing outcome, which gives a green light to the UK authorities – and potentially Saudi Arabia’s other arms suppliers – to continue authorizing arms transfers to the kingdom despite the clear risk they will be used to commit violations.”  

“Extensive and credible reports, including Amnesty International’s own research on the ground in Yemen, have in our view demonstrated that such weapons have been used to commit serious violations, including war crimes, against civilians in Yemen and that – in light of the clear risk – authorizing further transfers would be counter to the UK’s obligations under international law," Lynch noted.

The developments come after the High Court in London reviewed a plea against the country’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia, deciding that the government's weapons sales were not against law.

The court had been studying the case lodged by the UK-based NGO 'Campaign against the Arms Trade' since February. It issued its ruling on Monday.

Back at the time when the review began, Rosa Curling from the law firm, Leigh Day, which is representing the NGO, said she believed the decision to continue to grant new licenses for the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was "unlawful." 

The Royal Courts of Justice in London (file photo)

The United States has also been generously rewarding the kingdom with hefty arms deals during the invasion. Both the UK and the US are further lending intelligence and logistical support to the bombing campaign.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Lynch demanded an end to all arms exports to the Riyadh regime irrespective of this ruling.  

“Irrespective of this ruling, the UK and other governments should end their shameless arms supplies to Saudi Arabia. They may amount to lucrative trade deals, but the UK risks aiding and abetting these terrible crimes,” the Amnesty official said.  

Amnesty International and other NGOs and UN bodies have concluded that the Saudi pattern of attacks across Yemen raises serious concerns about an apparent disregard for civilian life.

A failure to take feasible precautions to spare civilians, as required by international humanitarian law, has led to civilian deaths and injuries and destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure.

Smoke rises to sky following airstrikes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. (AFP file photo)

Saudi Arabia has bombed hospitals, mosques, markets and other civilian infrastructure, and frequently carried out disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks that have killed and injured civilians. 

Amnesty said in March that the US and the UK had sold over $5 billion worth of weapons to the Riyadh regime since the onset of the invasion, more than 10 times the $450 million they have allegedly spent to help save Yemeni civilians.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh. Saudi warplanes have pounded Yemen day and night, killing over 12,000 people, including many women and children, and displacing over three million others.