U.K. Under Cameron Illegally Sold 8.7 Billion Dollars in Arms to Saudi Arabia, Claims Group

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade claims that U.K. military equipment might have been used by Saudi forces to kill civilians in Yemen.

A senior army commander talks to his soldiers at their base in southern Yemeni port city of Aden, September 28, 2015.
Reuters

The British government has been threatened with legal action for breaking international humanitarian law by allowing the export of British-made arms to Saudi Arabia, the Guardian reported.

Lawyers acting for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade have notified the British Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that it is breaching international law by continuing to issue export licenses for military equipment that might have been used by Saudi forces to kill civilians in Yemen. The allegations came in a 19-page legal letter seen by the Guardian.

CAAT lawyer Andrew Smith says that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has used U.K. arms to kill thousands of civilians and target infrastructure, amid growing evidence that these actions amount to war crimes.

According to the Guardian, CAAT has given the U.K. government two weeks to discontinue export licenses, citing article two of the EU Council Common Position on arms sales. The article obliges export licenses to be denied if there is a risk of exported equipment being used in violation of international law. If the U.K. government fails to adhere to the article, CAAT will take the case to high court.

The allegations come after the UN, EU and human rights groups have expressed concerns about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen as well as the executions carried out in the Kingdom. Saudi authorities put 47 prisoners to death in a mass execution on January 2. Last year, Saudi airstrikes hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital and several schools in Yemen.

Since the beginning of Prime Minister David Cameron’s term, about 8.7 billion dollars of British-made military equipment has been licensed to Saudi Arabia. Responding to previous inquiries about the arms exports to the Kingdom, British officials have stated that there is no credible evidence the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has breached any law.