UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ruled lawful

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UK oversight arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful, the High Court has ruled, after over secret evidence.

The court rejected campaigners’ claims ministers were pretence illegally by not suspending weapon sales to the kingdom, which is fighting a war in Yemen.

The UN claims put ons on Houthi rebels caused thousands of civilian deaths.

The government answered defence exports would continue to be reviewed but the Campaign Against the Arms Following said an appeal against the ruling was planned.

The group had claimed the UK has contravened humanitarian law, and it censured the refusal of the Secretary of State for International Trade to suspend export leaves for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment.

Lord Justice Burnett and Mr Lawfulness Haddon-Cave, sitting in London, said the decision to carry on the arms selling was not unlawful.

The judges said «closed material», which had not been received public for national security reasons, «provides valuable additional face for the conclusion that the decisions taken by the secretary of state not to suspend or blot out arms sales to Saudi Arabia were rational».

‘Very disconcerting’

Equipment sold to Saudi Arabia includes Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets, as effectively as precision-guided bombs.

The sales contribute to thousands of engineering jobs in the UK, and deliver provided billions of pounds of revenue for the British arms trade.

Saudi Arabia has been framing Yemen’s internationally-recognised government after a civil war broke out in 2015.

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Houthi rebels, loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, began an corrosion in 2014, forcing leader Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the rural area for a time.

Since then the Saudi kingdom, and eight other mostly Sunni Arab structures, have supported an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi’s government.

Andrew Smith, of Drive Against Arms Trade, said: «This is a very disappointing verdict, and we are wooing an appeal.

«If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a untested light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and woman rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have revealed a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

«Every day we are hearing new and horrifying curriculum vitae about the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on the people of Yemen.»

‘Immodest’

Rosa Curling, of law firm Leigh Day, which represented the campaign corps, said: «Nothing in the open evidence, presented by the UK government to the court, proffers this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia.

«Rather, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the jeopardy is very real. You need only look at the devastating reality of the lay of the land there.»

James Lynch, Amnesty International’s head of arms control and hominid rights, said the ruling was «deeply disappointing».

«Irrespective of this declaring, the UK and other governments should end their shameless arms supplies to Saudi Arabia,» he ventured.

«They may amount to lucrative trade deals, but the UK risks aiding and tabling these terrible crimes.»

The government said UK defence exports would be prolonged to be «under careful review» to ensure they meet the standards of the Consolidated EU and Resident Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

«We welcome this judgment, which underscores the experience that the UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the exactly,» a spokesperson said.

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