UK Breaches Court Order on Arms Sales to KSA/UAE Watch
Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, admitted the government approved two licences for military equipment which could be used in the civil war.
This is despite the government freezing new arms licences for Saudi Arabia in June after the Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful for the government to license weapons exports without assessing whether there was a “historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law” by the Saudi-led coalition.
Ms Truss wrote to the chair of the Committees on Arms Export Controls on Monday, informing them that she had apologised to the Court of Appeal for unintentionally breaching the ruling.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) claims the UK has licensed £5.3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict in Yemen began in March 2015.
Andrew Smith, of CAAT, said: “We are always being told how rigorous and robust UK arms export controls supposedly are, but this shows that nothing could be further from the truth.
“If the government cannot be trusted to follow its own rules, or an order from the Court of Appeal, then it must immediately end all arms exports to the Saudi regime and cease all support for this devastating war.”
Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, called for Ms Truss to resign if she “cannot control her department, obey the law and do what is morally right”.
He added: “The people of the United Kingdom do not want to be complicit in fuelling the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the secretary of state must immediately suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“Thousands of people have been killed in this war and it is staggering that the trade secretary thinks an apology will get her off the hook.”
The Department for International Trade has called for an investigation into the circumstances in which the licences were granted and to find out whether there are any others which have breached the ruling.