Mohammed Awadh/Save the Children

High Court: British arms sale to Saudi Arabia legal

In the end, it only took minutes for the judge to deliver the verdict we’ve been waiting months for.

Lord Justice Burnett ruled that the UK government can rationally conclude that the Saudi-led Coalition is not deliberately targeting civilians in Yemen and is respecting International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and therefore continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

The reaction in Court 1 was muted, but it was a deeply disappointing decision for the groups which brought the case and humanitarian agencies like ours working on the ground in Yemen. Campaign Against the Arms Trade immediately said they would appeal the verdict.

Tell the UK government to protect children in Yemen now.

Since the war in Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licenced more than £3bn worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including fighter jets, tanks and missiles. Those weapons are then being used in the war in neighbouring Yemen, where the kingdom is heading up a coalition which has been accused by the United Nations and others of violating IHL by repeatedly attacking schools, hospitals and civilian areas.

Beyond the rarefied air of the Royal Courts of Justice, our team on the ground in Yemen see the impact of airstrikes and violence every day.

They are working with Ali, an 8 year old boy left partially deaf and traumatised after an airstrike threw him out of his second floor bedroom window. Or the two toddlers who suffered severe burns when a bomb hit the funeral they were attending in the capital Sanaa earlier this year.

Mohammed Awadh / Save the Children
Ali*, 9, was seriously injured in an airstrike in June 2016 in Sa’ada Governorate, Yemen.

They see a situation in which schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure have been hit in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, where children are being ravaged by hunger and disease.

Our government shouldn’t wait for the outcome of an appeal. The UK should stand tall in the world and do the right thing – suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia until an independent international investigation has been carried out.

We can already be proud of the UK’s role in providing aid to Yemen, but the government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. We should be ashamed that our weapons are being used in a conflict which is causing untold suffering to civilians. Our greatest export to Yemen’s children should be hope, not fear.

Share and sign our petition to protect children in Yemen now.

Read more about the situation in Yemen:

* Names have been changed to protected identity.

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