German court reverses arms export ban to Saudi Arabia

German court reverses arms export ban to Saudi Arabia
3 min read
04 December, 2019
The court ruled against authorities, which it said had failed to follow procedures in revoking the license that had already been issued.

The ban was imposed in the aftermath of the Khashoggi killing [Getty]
A de-facto arms export ban that had prevented German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall from exporting armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia has been annulled by a German court, reports confirmed on Tuesday.

The court ruled against authorities, which it said had failed to follow procedures in revoking the license that had already been issued.

The license had allowed  the sale of 110 vehicles to Saudi Arabia, 10 of which were already delivered to the kingdom in October.

The court said the manner in which the export license had been revoked indicated that authorities were trying to avoid being forced to pay compensation, Reuters reported.

Responding to the ruling, German authorities said they would examine the decision, which can be appealed.

Germany was the only European country to impose an arms sales ban on Saudi Arabia in November last year, after the shocking killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi revealed the kingdom’s involvement in the murder.

'Doubled'

Meanwhile, the UK government has since 2015 doubled the value of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been involved in a five-year bombing campaign in neighbouring Yemen.

Government data showed that London licensed £5.3 million worth of arms sales to Riyadh from March 2015 until March 2019, amounting to almost a 50 percent increase on the value of arms licenses, which stood at £3.8 million prior to the Yemen conflict. 

Read more: No, 'job losses' isn't justification for continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia

In reality, the figures are likely to be a great deal higher, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which said on Monday that most sales of missiles are licensed via "opaque and secretive" Open Licence system.

"The bombing has created a terrible humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but the arms companies have treated it as a business opportunity," Andrew Smith, spokesman at CAAT said.

"This war would not be possible without the complicity and support of arms dealing governments like the UK and US, who have pulled out all stops to maximise arms sales irrespective of the human cost," Smith said.

The UK-based campaigning organisation urged London to re-think its relationship with the Saudi kingdom, which has been accused by numerous international rights organisations of human rights violations.

"Regardless of who wins the election next month, there must be a fundamental re-evaluation of the UK's relationship with the brutal Saudi regime," Smith said.

"It is long past time for Westminster to end the arms sales and stop its uncritical support for the dictatorship."

A UK court ruled in June that it was illegal for the government to license weapons exports to Saudi Arabia without first assessing whether there was an "historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law" by the Saudi-led coalition that has fought Yemen's Houthi rebels since 2015.

The war in Yemen has killed over 100,000 people and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.

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