Recent reports state that the High Court has ruled that the UK Government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful, despite thousands being dead as a result.
The court rejected claims that the UK government’s failure to suspend sales to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is illegal. However, the UN states that Saudi air strikes in Yemen have led to the death of thousands of civilians.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which initiated the claims regarding the UK government’s alleged contravention of humanitarian law, will now appeal against the High Court’s decision. The campaign also originally asked the Secretary of State to cease trading military equipment and weapons with Saudi Arabia on this basis.
In London today however, Lord Justice Burnett and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the decision to carry on the arms trade was not unlawful.
According to the BBC, the judges said that ‘closed material’, or in other words secret or non-publicly available documents, “provides valuable additional support for the conclusion that the decisions taken by the secretary of state not to suspend or cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia were rational.”
The weapons built and sold to Saudi Arabia have meant thousands of engineering jobs in the UK and billions in revenue for the country, but the output of the weapons has gone towards the Saudi support of Yemen’s internationally-recognised government, following a civil war in 2015.
Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, says: “This is a very disappointing verdict, and we are pursuing an appeal.
“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.
“Every day we are hearing new and horrifying stories about the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on the people of Yemen.”
In addition, Rosa Curling, from law firm Leigh Day, the firm that represented the campaign group, says: “Nothing in the open evidence, presented by the UK government to the court, suggests this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia.
“Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real. You need only look at the devastating reality of the situation there.”