UK suspends new Saudi arms licences linked to Yemen

20th June, 2019 09:59:07 printer

LONDON: The British government said on Thursday it would suspend issuing new Saudi licenses for the sale of arms that might be used in the Gulf kingdom’s bombing campaign in Yemen, reports AFP.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox announced the decision in parliament after a British court ordered the government to “reconsider” the sales because of their humanitarian impact.

“We disagree with the judgement and will seek permission to appeal,” Fox said.

“While we do this, we will not grant any new licenses to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen.”

Shares in Britain’s BAE Systems defence and aerospace giants lost almost three percent of their value within an hour of the government’s announcement.

Britain’s Court of Appeal had earlier on Thursday ruled that the government broke the law by failing to properly assess whether the arms it sells to Riyadh violated its commitment to human rights.

Judge Terence Etherton said the UK government “must reconsider the matter” and weigh up future risks.

The government had “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,” Etherton ruled.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was “disappointed that the court found against the government on one ground” and would seek an appeal.

Thursday’s ruling was part of a long-running court battle that the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) non-profit first launched against the British government in December 2015.