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Britain must stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia: MPs

16 September 2016 7:46

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A number of UK lawmakers have called on London to stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia until an inquiry into Riyadh’s human rights violations in Yemen is complete.

The Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC) has raised serious concern about the UK’s commitment to international law regarding the sale of arms, the British media reported on Thursday.

CAEC inquiry chair Chris White said the government must now take urgent action in halting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

“During this inquiry we have heard evidence from respected sources that weapons made in the UK have been used in contravention of international humanitarian law,” he said.

“The Government can no longer wait and see and must now take urgent action, halting the sale of arms to the Saudi-led coalition until we can be sure that there is no risk of violation,” he added.

White also called for an independent inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s use of cluster bombs in Yemen.

“We call on the Government to continue the UK’s long-standing commitment to IHL and lead the international community in establishing a strong, independent inquiry. The circumstances surrounding incidents in Yemen, such as allegations of the use of cluster bombs, must be firmly established and send a clear message to all combatants in Yemen that human rights must be respected,” he said.

The British government’s resistance to end Saudi arms sales adds strength to Britain’s seemingly untouchable relationship with the House of Saud. Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May staunchly defended selling arms to the kingdom despite facing criticism for being supportive of a human rights violator.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on May to halt the arms sales because of the “humanitarian devastation” caused by the aggressive war on Yemen.

Britain is now the second biggest arms dealer in the world and since 2010, two-thirds of weapons have reportedly gone to the Middle East.

Britain signed off a contract worth £3.3 billion of arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the first year of the country’s bombardment of Yemen, which included drones, helicopters, and other aircraft.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015, with the UN putting the death toll from the military aggression at about 10,000.

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