“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Rights Watch UK will this week join the appeal against the UK’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia in a fresh legal challenge,” the London-based organization said in a statement on Monday, Presstv Reported.
The case, brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) at the Court of Appeal in London, seeks to stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia by questioning their legality, arguing that the weapons are being used to kill civilians in Yemen.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including £2.7 billion worth of licenses for aircraft, helicopters and drones as well as £1.9 billion in licenses for grenades, bombs and missiles.
The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen. Tens of thousands of Yemenis have so far been killed and thousands more injured.
In November 2018, Save the Children international rights group estimated that 85,000 Yemeni children may have died from extreme hunger or disease caused by the war.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has recorded more than 325 Saudi attacks on schools, health facilities, markets, roads, bridges and even water points across Yemen.
Yet in March, as the conflict entered its fifth year, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended London’s weapons sales to Riyadh in an article for Politico.
Lucy Claridge, Amnesty International’s Director of Strategic Litigation, said Saudi Arabia has put millions of Yemenis at serious risk of famine as a result of a “relentless bombing campaign that has been made possible by British arms and equipment.”
“How many more people must die before the UK Government admits it is in the wrong? By selling billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, ministers are signing a death warrant for the people of Yemen,” she wrote.
The UK’s refusal to cease arms deals with Riyadh comes at a time when other arms suppliers to the kingdom have either halted their deals – like the Netherlands, Belgium (Flemish region) and Greece -- or introduced restrictive measures -- like Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The High Court in London originally heard CAAT’s argument in February 2017 but dismissed it, ruling that the government was entitled to continue authorizing the arms exports.
“Having been given permission to appeal the ruling in May 2018, CAAT’s case will now be heard by the Court of Appeal in London from 9 to 11 April,” Amnesty said.