Yesterday evening Campaign Against Arms Trade held a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the eve of a judicial review they are bringing against the UK government.
Since the war in Yemen began in 2015, the UK government has refused to stop sales of arms to Saudi Arabia despite clear evidence of international humanitarian violations such as bombing of schools, hospitals, food supplies and civilians.
UK law should prohibit sales in these circumstances, but it took three years of legal wrangling before the Court of Appeal finally ruled against the government and sales stopped for six months while the government reviewed all licences to several Gulf state coalition partners.
On 7 July 2020, the then International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced that any violations of international law had been “isolated incidents” and that exports would resume.
Three months later CAAT filed a new judicial review against this extraordinary decision, and after many delays, in July 2022 a date was finally set for the hearing this week at the Royal Courts of Justice.
At last night’s vigil, speakers included David Wearing, who is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex and the author of “AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters To Britain”. He spoke about the UK’s long history of bombing civilians in the Middle East and elsewhere, and warned against simply characterising the Saudis as barbaric and violent, when we are so complicit by signing agreements to train pilots and maintain the Eurofighters we’ve sold over the many years of this war.
Yemeni-Scouse poet Amina Atiq spoke about the need for justice in the light of evidence that wedding and funeral events have been deliberately bombed by Saudi aircraft.
The hearing which began this morning is expected to last three days, but much of it will actually be held in secret with ‘special advocates’ presenting the case due to concerns over national security, and the judgement isn’t expected for at least three months.