Campaigners mount fresh legal challenge stop sale arms Saudi Arabia

Campaigners win the right to launch a fresh legal bid to stop the UK selling deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia amid claims human rights laws are being flouted in the war in Yemen

  • Campaign Against Arms Trade want a ban ton the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia
  • They accused the Kingdom of breaching international law in Yemen conflict 
  • High Court bid failed but Court of Appeal judges said they can appeal ruling

Campaigners today won the right to launch a fresh legal challenge against the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia.    

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) want a ban to be imposed amid claims the Kingdom is breaching international human rights law in the war in Yemen. 

The High Court ruled last year that the sales could go ahead despite concerns about the humanitarian impact.

But today two Court of Appeal judges gave the green light to campaigners to appeal the decision. 

Lord Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Flaux, granted permission for the appeal, which will be heard by the Court of Appeal in the months ahead. 

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) want a ban to be imposed amid claims the kingdom is breaching international human rights law in the war in Yemen. The High Court (pictured) ruled last year that the sales could go ahead but today Court of Appeal judges said the ruling can be appealed 

Lawyers Leigh Day, representing CAAT, said the sales flout british policy which prohibits selling licences if there is a ‘clear risk’ the arms ‘might’ be used in ‘a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law’.

CAAT point out that thousands of people have been killed as a result of the bombing on Yemen.

And many more have died as a result of the humanitarian catastrophe that has taken root in the war-torn country.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime.

This includes  £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences – which includes aircraft, helicopters and drones.

And a further £1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences – handed out for grenades, bombs, and missiles – have also been sold. 

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: ‘The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has killed thousands of people and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. 

‘Despite this, the Saudi regime has been armed and supported every step of the way by successive UK governments. We believe that these arms sales are immoral, and are confident that the Court of Appeal will agree that they are unlawful.’

Rosa Curling of Leigh Day said: ‘We are delighted the Court of Appeal judges have recognised that a full hearing into this case must take place. 

‘It is clear from the open evidence in this claim that there is a clear risk the arms sold from the UK might be used in serious violation of international law. 

Theresa May (pictured yesterday with her husband Philip after voting in local elections in London) wants the UK to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia as it brings billions of pounds into the UK’s economy

‘Where our politicians have sadly failed to follows UK legislation and policy, our client hopes the Court will ensure the rule of law is upheld.’   

A Government spokesman said: ‘We remain confident that the UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world and will continue to defend the decisions being challenged.

‘We keep our defence exports under careful review to ensure they meet the rigorous standards of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.’   

Rocco Blume, Head of Policy and Advocacy at War Child UK, said: ‘All evidence shared publicly makes it clear that the UK government has blood on its hands as long as it sells arms to Saudi Arabia. 

‘UN verified data has found that Saudi Arabia is guilty of grave violations against children’s rights.’

‘The UK only has one chance to determine its identity in a post-EU Britain – it must cease its arms sales to Saudi Arabia to end its part in this conflict and show that it is prioritising human rights.’  

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