Yemen conflict: Amnesty backs arms embargo on Saudi Arabia

Yemen conflict: Amnesty backs arms embargo on Saudi Arabia
3 min read
26 February, 2016
Amnesty international has called on Western nations to abide by their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for use against civilians in Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen has raged on for nearly a year [Anadolu]
Amnesty International has backed calls by campaigners for Western governments to stop selling billions of dollars worth of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia being used to attack Yemeni civilians.

The call comes ahead of the latest round of discussions in Geneva on 29 February on the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), to which most nations selling weapons to Riyadh are signatory parties.

“Governments approving the export of arms to Saudi Arabia capable of use in Yemen have received many detailed and credible reports from the UN and other reputable bodies over the past months pointing to a pattern of horrific human rights abuses and war crimes committed throughout Yemen by the Kingdom’s forces and allies," said Brian Wood, Amnesty International’s Head of Arms Control and Human Rights.

“In the face of unbearable suffering of civilians and mounting casualties those governments have failed to enact convincing measures to prevent further violations, conduct independent and impartial investigations or bring the perpetrators to justice, yet, they are carrying on business as usual, and in some cases even escalating arms transfers. This is a clear breach of the golden rules in the Arms Trade Treaty.

“Given the obvious high risks, we appeal to all states to immediately halt arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that are capable of being used to commit or facilitate further serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia said last week it would continue its campaign of air power until Yemen President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi was fully restored to power.

In a report to be released on Friday, the Control Arms Coalition will name France, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US as having reported licenses and sales to Saudi Arabia worth more than $25bn in 2015 including drones, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles.

“These countries are arming and aiding a campaign that’s bombing, killing and starving civilians," said Yemeni Control Arms researcher Nawal al-Maghafi.

Control Arms called on ATT states parties to include a discussion of the grave situation in Yemen as part of Monday’s meeting, and to commit immediately to halting the transfer of weapons to Saudi Arabia and to its allies where these are at serious risk of being used in Yemen.

“Governments such as the UK and France were leaders in seeking to secure an ATT – and now they are undermining the commitments they made to reduce human suffering by supplying Saudi Arabia with some of the deadliest weapons in the world. It’s truly sickening," said Anna Macdonald, Director of Control Arms.

“There is irrefutable evidence showing that these weapons are being used to target residential areas and civilian objects. Around 35,000 people have been killed or injured in less than a year already in this conflict and more than 2.5m people have lost their homes. Enough is enough.

Violations are also being committed by Houthi forces, according to the organisation.

The European Parliament on Thursday called on the European Union to impose an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, saying Britain, France and other EU governments should no longer sell weapons to a country accused of targeting civilians in Yemen.

Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi-led forces began military operations alongside the internationally recognised government against Houthi rebels in March last year, according to the United Nations.