UK court rejects bid to halt Saudi arms sales
London’s High Court has ruled that Britain’s multi-billion-pound arms sales to its ally Saudi Arabia is lawful.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) had sought an order to block the export licences for British-made bombs, fighter jets and other munitions.
The campaigners argued they were being used by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen in violation of international humanitarian law.
But on Monday, the High Court said “the claimant’s claim for judicial review is dismissed”.
The court ruled there had been extensive political and military engagement with Saudi Arabia regarding the conduct of operations in Yemen and the Saudis had “sought positively to address concerns about international humanitarian law”.
Some of the evidence in the case was presented in secret on national security grounds.
CAAT said it would appeal the decision, calling the ruling “very disappointing”.
“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 international humanitarian law,” CAAT’s Andrew Smith said in a statement.
An annual report by UN experts who monitor sanctions and the conflict in Yemen, seen by Reuters news agency in January, said the Saudi-led coalition had carried out attacks in Yemen that “may amount to war crimes”, accusations that Riyadh has rejected.
CAAT had been seeking a judicial review over the government’s decision to allow arms exports to continue to Saudi Arabia, a major customer for British defence companies and an important British ally in countering “terrorism”.(Agencies)