Court of Appeal Ruling Must Mean an End to the Bombing of Yemen
This ruling must mark a turning point in Saudi Arabia's brutal bombing campaign
Today's ruling by the Court of Appeal makes clear what many have known for years - that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are illegal as well as immoral.
According to the judgment, resulting from the case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the government "made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so".
This has been clear to anyone who has paid attention to the last four years of bombardment on the people of Yemen. Our government has shamelessly sold arms to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - one of the most repressive regimes in the world – on a repeated basis to the tune of over £5 billion since the war began.
We must hope that this ruling draws a line in the sand regarding the Saudi regime's brutal bombing campaign and highlights the destruction it has caused. More than 60,000 people have been killed as a direct result of the war and 85,000 children have died of hunger and preventable diseases.
This destruction would not have been possible without the wholehearted support of the Conservative government and the British military, both of whom have played a key role in facilitating the war through licensing arms sales and providing both practical and political support.
Two of the front-runners in the current race to be the next Prime Minister have been key backers of such arms sales during their separate stints as Foreign Minister. Boris Johnson continually approved deals in the face of mounting evidence of civilian deaths and Jeremy Hunt went as far as to write to the German government to express concern at the potentially negative impact of their decision to suspend arms sales to Saudi’s on the European defence industry.
As much as the ruling is a welcome step forward in the campaign to end the war on Yemen, it must also be pointed out that it does not go near far enough. Master of the Rolls, Sir Terrence Etherton, said when delivering the judgement that “the decision of the court today does not mean that licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia must immediately be suspended”.
We must use this judgement to highlight the hypocrisy of such a statement and continue to call on the British government to immediately suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and apologise to all those who have suffered as result of its policy.