News ID: 112061
Publish Date : 04 February 2023 - 21:29

UK Campaigners Shut Out of Case Against Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

LONDON (AFP) – A British High Court denied anti-arms campaigners access to the last day of a case being heard against arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the UK said it did not deserve criticism for its weapons harming Yemenis as they were not governed by its jurisdiction.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said the final session of their case entered closed sessions on Thursday, with neither CAAT nor its lawyers allowed access to the material discussed.
Special advocates acting on behalf of CAAT will instead be arguing for the campaign group during this part of the case as they have the required security clearance to do so.
But despite acting on their behalf, the special advocate is legally bound not to disclose what was discussed or presented during the closed court sessions.
“It is alarming that there appears to be so much closed evidence that we are not allowed to see, including even the figure for the ‘small number’ of possible IHL violations the government claims to have identified,” said Emily Apple, spokesperson for CAAT.
“This means we are not able to analyze what’s being said and the people in Yemen are prevented from knowing exactly how this government justifies the arms sales that have devastated their lives. This is not justice.”
The campaign group also criticized Britain’s “contempt” for Yemenis after the government’s lawyer James Eadie argued that harm to civilians did not require “anxious scrutiny” as the people facing harm in Yemen are not in Britain.
“[Eadie] essentially said it doesn’t matter that Yemeni people are being killed because they don’t have the same legal protections that require scrutiny under British law,” said Apple.
During the second day of open court proceedings, Eadie added that the government was “better placed than NGOs” and UN expert panels to determine whether Riyadh adheres to international law.
The case concluded on Thursday with a judgment expected to come out in two to six months.
According to Oxfam, the UK has licensed at least £7.9bn ($9.6bn) in arms to Saudi Arabia across 547 licenses since 2015, including Tornado and Typhoon aircraft and bombs.