UK SEEKING TO OVERTURN COURT RULING BANNING ARMS SALE TO SAUDI ARABIA

The British government has been accused of prioritising military exports over civilian lives, after minsters requested courts to set aside a landmark legal ruling which concluded that UK arms exports to Saudi is unlawful.

According to the group leading the charge against UK arms sale to Saudi Arabia; the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the challenge to last month’s judgement was made through an application for a stay, which is a legal process that seeks to halt any further legal proceeding related to the case.

Following June’s Court of Appeals judgement overturning a 2017 High Court ruling authorising the UK to continue licensing the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, it was expected that arms sales would be halted after the ruling pending a review. Conservative MP Liam Fox told MPs that the government would “not grant any new licences for export to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen”.

The assurance given by Fox is being contradicted by Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). The media coordinator for the group said that he believed a stay could be used to allow sales to continue. “The court found that the government acted irrationally and unlawfully in allowing these arms sales. If a stay is granted then it will result in more unlawful arms sales and more atrocities.”

The Department for International Trade, while stating that it was not going to grant any new export licences to Saudi Arabia admitted that it was seeking to overturn the ruling saying “we disagree with the judgement and will be seeking permission to appeal.”

Responding to the government’s attempt to overturn the court ruling, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This makes a mockery of their own commitment to halt all new sales while a review takes place into civilian casualties. Nothing could be clearer: the government’s priority is to sell arms, not to protect the rights and lives of Yemeni people.”

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In a legal challenge brought by anti-arms trade campaigners, three of the UK’s top judges concluded that it was “irrational and unlawful” of the government to allow arms sales to Saudi Arabia without making proper checks. The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that the British government has “made no attempt” to assess whether Riyadh had breached international humanitarian law in the Yemen war.

Relatives of 37 Saudis executed last week on alleged “terror” offences have accused the Canadian government of being complicit in the brutal killing in which some of the bodies were nailed to a post in a public location for several hours in a “crucifixion” position. Their anger was directed at the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which has a $15 billion arms deal with Riyadh. Relatives of the victims claiming asylum in Canada called on Ottawa to stop the sale of arms to the regime, saying that continuing to do so makes Canada complicit in the kingdom’s human rights abuses.

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The sale of UK-made bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia has leapt by almost 500 percent, according to new data from Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). British munitions have been used in the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen, contributing to the humanitarian catastrophe there.

Britain’s largest defense firm has made $733m in six months, and expects further growth, in results posted weeks after surviving a High Court challenge to its multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia. BAE Systems lauded the sale of Typhoon jets to Oman and noted its court victory over anti-arms trade campaigners in the results, saying net profits soared 36 percent to £555m ($733m) in the six months to the end of June, compared with £408m a year earlier.

More than £3bn of British-made weaponry was licensed for export last year to 21 of the Foreign Office’s 30 “human rights priority countries” – those identified by the government as being where “the worst, or greatest number of, human rights violations take place”, or “where we judge that the UK can make a real difference”.

In a further sign of its ramping up its military muscle, Saudi Arabia has become the biggest arms importer in the Middle East, and the second biggest in the world, after India, with an increase of 275 percent in 2011-5 compared to 2006-10. Between 2011-15 Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer, with an increase of 275 per cent compared to 2006-10. In the same period, arms imports by the United Arab Emirates rose by 35 per cent and those by Qatar went up by 279 per cent.

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