Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has been granted permission for its legal challenge against the UK government’s decision to renew arms sales for use in the war in Yemen to proceed to the High Court.
The Honourable Mr Justice Jay recently ordered that the case was arguable, granting CAAT’s application for permission to apply for judicial review.
In June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi-led forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law. This followed a case brought by CAAT.
The government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to retake the decisions on extant licences in a lawful manner.
In July 2020 the government announced that it was resuming arms sales after a review by the Department of International Trade concluded that any violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committed by the Saudi coalition were ‘isolated incidents’.
This was despite hundreds of attacks on residential areas, schools, hospitals, civilian gatherings and agricultural land and facilities being documented.
In the months that followed the decision to renew sales, the UK has licensed a further £1.45 billion worth of arms licences to Saudi Arabia, taking the total value of arms licensed since the bombing began to £6.8 billion.
This includes £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones) and £3.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures).
The High Court will now consider whether the government’s decision to resume licensing arms sales which could be used in the war in Yemen was lawful, with a hearing likely to take place later this year.
“UK made weapons have been central to a bombardment that has destroyed schools, hospitals and homes and created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” said Sarah Waldron of CAAT. “The UK government may claim that these are only ‘isolated incidents’ but nothing could be further from the truth.
“Attacks on civilian sites have been widespread and systematic, and have hugely increased the death toll. Despite its complicity in this crisis the UK government has done all it can to keep the arms sales flowing. The decision to renew arms sales was immoral, and we are confident that the High Court will conclude that it was also illegal.”
Picture: Boys inspect the wreckage of a bus in Saada, Yemen, on 10th August 2018. A Yemeni health official and the International Committee of the Red Cross said on 9th August 2018 that an air strike hit a bus carrying children as it drove through a market in northern Saada province, killing dozens. (CNS photo/Naif Rahma, Reuters).