A legal case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade aims to end UK sales of fighter jets and other weapons to Saudi Arabia over their use in the conflict in Yemen. Francis Maguire reports.
A landmark legal case aimed at banning UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen began at London's High Court on Tuesday (February 7). The case has been brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, which argues British sales of fighter jets and weapons to Saudi Arabia are responsible for much of the misery endured in Yemen. They also claim the sales are in direct violation of UK and EU laws. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPOKESMAN CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMS TRADE, ANDREW SMITH, SAYING: "For two years now the UK has been complicit in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen. We have seen UK fighter jets and UK bombs being central to that bombardment and central to the destruction which has taken place. On paper UK arms export criteria is very clear. It says if there is a clear risk that weapons might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law then arms sales should not go ahead. By any common sense understanding we believe that should end arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen." The campaign group will argue that a range of international organisations, including a UN Panel of Experts and the European Parliament have branded Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen as unlawful. The judicial review will decide whether the UK must cease issuing export licences for weapons to Saudi and freeze any existing ones. Saudi Arabia is an important market for British arms firms. Since the Yemen bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed more than £3.3 billion worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia, according to the Campaign Against Arms Teade. The three-day hearing will also involve submissions from Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam. The high court is expected to issue its ruling in a few weeks.