Campaigners Start UK Court Case to Stop Saudi Arms Sales
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Campaigners began a legal challenge on Tuesday to halt Britain's multi-billion-pound arms sales to its ally Saudi Arabia, arguing the weapons could be used in Yemen in violation of international humanitarian law.
The Campaign Against The Arms Trade (CAAT) is seeking an order at London's High Court to block export licenses for British-made bombs, fighter jets and other munitions which it says the Saudi-led Arab coalition are using in a campaign against Yemeni people, Reuters reported.
The Saudi-led aggression on Yemen, which has raged since March 2015, has killed more than 10,000 people, half of them civilians, and unleashed a humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Middle East.
An annual report by UN experts who monitor sanctions and the conflict in Yemen, said the Saudi-led coalition acting in support of Yemen's fugitive former president had carried out attacks that "may amount to war crimes."
In December, the United States said it had decided to limit military support to the campaign in Yemen because of concerns about widespread civilian casualties.
Saudi Arabia is a major customer for British defense companies and an important British ally, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been trying to build on traditionally strong ties with oil-wealthy Persian Gulf Arab monarchies before Britain leaves the European Union.
Since the start of the conflict, Britain has approved export licenses to Saudi Arabia for more than 3.3 billion pounds worth of aircraft, weapons and munitions, CAAT says.
However, May's government has come under increasing pressure from MPs in parliament over its policy on the arms sales and CAAT is seeking a judicial review over the decision to allow the exports to continue.