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Campaigners Are Taking The UK Government To Court Over Selling Weapons To Saudi Arabia

Campaign Against Arms Trade alleges that weapons being sold by the British government to Saudi Arabia are being used in human rights violations in Yemen.

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Mohamed Al-sayaghi / Reuters

Anti-arms trade campaigners have brought a landmark case to the High Court over the British government's sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) alleges that the government's sale of weapons to the Saudi government makes the UK complicit in the international human rights violations unfolding in Yemen's proxy war.

Saudi Arabia led an intervention into Yemen's civil war in 2015. Since then, the UK has sold more than £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, with international human rights groups finding evidence of British-made weaponry used in bombing campaigns.

Last year, MP Tom Brake told BuzzFeed News the UK government had "serious questions" to answer over the sale.

Ahead of court this morning, CAAT spokesperson Andrew Smith said: "For two years now, the UK has been complicit in the destruction which has been forced onto the people of Yemen."

"This has been facilitated by UK arms and UK political support," he told BuzzFeed News. "This isn't just immoral, it's also illegal, and the reason why we're in court this week is to try and put an end to that and put an end to the UK's complicity in the destruction of Yemen."

The case, which will be heard over the next three days, is being brought by CAAT, and Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam will all give evidence to the court.

James Lynch, Amnesty International’s head of arms control and human rights, said it "beggars belief" the UK continued to sell to Saudi Arabia, "given the extensive and credible reporting showing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s ongoing serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes".

He added: “How many civilians need to be killed, maimed, rendered homeless, and have their hopes and dreams shattered by Saudi Arabia-led forces that the UK government, among others, continues to recklessly arm?”

Last month the United Nations said the civilian death toll from the two-year conflict had passed 10,000. More than 40,000 people have been wounded, and an estimated 10 million have been displaced.

Save the Children, which works extensively in Yemen, said in a statement this morning that the British government "knows one of its allies has blood on its hands".

The charity said: "Schools and hospitals have been targeted in attacks that may have broken international law. Almost 3,000 children have been killed or injured," and called for an immediate end to the weaponry sale.

Ministers Told They Have “Serious Questions To Answer” Over Saudi Arabia Court Evidence

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at

Aisha Gani is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Aisha Gani at

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