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  • Rights groups join appeal to review U.K. arms sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war.

    Rights groups join appeal to review U.K. arms sale to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 November 2018

After the United States, U.K. is the second largest arms exporter to Saudi Arabia, exporting more than US$6 billion worth of arms since the Saudi-led Yemen war started in 2015.

Amnesty International, Rights Watch UK, and Human Rights Watch have been granted permission to join a landmark legal appeal on the United Kingdom’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

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The judicial review of the U.K. government’s arms trade policy towards Saudi Arabia was first brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in 2017. The case hopes to prove that Britain is breaking its own criteria for exporting weapons as any arms sent to the Gulf country could be used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen.

CAAT lost its first challenge at the High Court in London in July 2017 but an appeal is scheduled for April 2019 in an appeals court. The three other organizations will also be allowed to submit evidence during the appeal hearing.

"Certainly the fact that their intervention has been allowed by the court is something that is going to be really welcome and will hugely strengthen our case," CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith told Middle East Eye Monday.

After the United States, U.K. is the second largest arms exporter to Saudi Arabia, exporting more than US$6 billion worth of arms since the Saudi-led Yemen war started in 2015.

The U.K. government’s arms export policy had come under criticism in the wake of the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, especially from its opposition, the Labour party which said that a Labour government will not tolerate this.

Since Khashoggi’s murder, Germany and Switzerland halted their arms sale to the kingdom.

Earlier in September, the U.K government defended their stance on arms sale to the oil-rich country. "If the murder in the embassy is not enough, and if the worst humanitarian crisis is not enough, and if the death of tens of thousands of people is not enough - then what would it take for Jeremy Hunt and his American counterparts to finally end the arms sales?" questioned CAAT's Smith.

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