Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has welcomed the European Parliament's vote to support an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. The amendment was passed by 359 votes to 212, with 31 abstentions.
The vote is not legally binding, but it sends a strong message to member states that have continued to arm Saudi Arabia despite allegations of war crimes in Yemen. The UK government has licensed £6.7 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron took office in 2010, including £2.8 billion since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The European Parliament has sent a clear, strong and much needed message to governments like the UK, that have been complicit in the destruction of Yemen. The toxic combination of arms sales and political support has helped to fuel, facilitate and legitimise the humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place."
In January 2016, Law firm Leigh Day, representing CAAT, issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review challenging the government's decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia despite increasing evidence that Saudi forces are violating international humanitarian law in Yemen. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22691) CAAT will make further announcements on the status of the action in the weeks ahead.
Andrew Smith continued: "Government ministers may talk about the importance of human rights, but UK bombs and fighter jets have been absolutely central to the ongoing bombardment. Thousands have died yet the message sent out by the UK government is that their lives are less important than arms company profits."
A recent study by Opinium LLP for CAAT found that 62 per cent of UK adults oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with only 16 per cent supporting them.
* CAAT https://www.caat.org.uk/