The court of appeal declared on Thursday that the UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia have contributed to more than 100,000 civilian deaths in the Saudi-led bombing and fighting in Yemen since 2016.
The ruling came from the challenge brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). Andrew Smith of CAAT expressed their collective concern over the UK’s dealings with Saudi Arabia’s regime, claiming that the humanitarian crisis that has come out of the war in Yemen is one of the worst in modern history:
The Saudi Arabian regime is one of the most brutal and repressive in the world, yet, for decades, it has been the largest buyer of UK-made arms. No matter what atrocities it has inflicted, the Saudi regime has been able to count on the unethical political and military support of the UK. The bombing has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. UK arms companies have profited every step of the way. The arms sales must stop immediately.”
Continuously supported by politicians such as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the UK has licensed the sales of least £4.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015. The result has been that since 2016, at least 100,000 civilians have been killed in Yemen from the conflict, with the numbers injured and internally displaced in the hundreds of thousands.
The court of appeal has therefore accused the UK government of licensing the sales of arms even though there was a clear risk of breaching international humanitarian law, and that future risks of breaching humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition must be assessed by ministers when deciding whether to allow arms sales.
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who was in court during the decision, made strong statements against the Conservative Party and their vocal support of the Saudi regime, claiming that “this goes right to the top of the Tory party”.
With the war in Yemen now reaching its fourth year, many are becoming increasingly vocal about the controversial support from the West towards Saudi Arabia and its brutal violation of human rights both domestically and abroad. The UK’s continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as with any support towards this repressive regime, should be immediately halted.