Thursday, February 09, 2017

UK Ministers knowingly ignored the law on arms sales to Saudi Arabia

UK law prohibits arms sales where there is a clear risk that the weapons will be used to commit war crimes. Despite this, the UK exports weapons to Saudi Arabia, where they are used to murder Yemani civilians. Those exports are currently being challenged in court, and it turns out that Ministers ignored clear warnings that they were illegal:

Sajid Javid refused to halt weapons exports to Saudi Arabia last year despite being warned by a senior civil servant that the sales should be suspended over human rights concerns.

The then business secretary was told a year ago about concerns that weapons could be used to kill civilians in Yemen, according to ministerial correspondence that emerged on the first day of a judicial review into UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Edward Bell, head of the Export Control Organisation, wrote in an email about the decision: “To be honest, and I was very direct and honest with the secretary of state, my gut tells me we should suspend [weapons exports to the country].”


Javid, however, upheld the weapons licences even though he acknowledged to cabinet colleagues there was “uncertainty and gaps in the knowledge available” of how they would be used, a London court heard.

The government's defence? That it's a "political" decision in which the courts should not interfere. Except that parliament has passed a law saying that its not and that they must. But in the corrupt UK apparently the law means nothing - what's important is showing support for traditional allies, no matter how evil they are, and protecting "British jobs" (by which they mean business profits) in the immoral weapons industry.

I'm not sure what the penalty is for knowingly allowing illegal arms exports, but I'd hope that those responsible face jail. Instead, this being the UK, they'll probably get knighthoods or something.