London (GPA) – The London High Court has ruled in favor of the UK government following a lawsuit raised by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). Which focused on violations of international humanitarian laws perpetrated by Saudi Arabia since beginning their war against Yemen– now in its third year.
Despite the overwhelming 53 pages of evidence, two senior judges ruled that weapons sales and shipments to the Saudis from the United Kingdom can proceed as usual. Stating the Saudis’ conduct in Yemen “was not irrational or unlawful” and that at any given point during the past two years, no “clear risk” or “serious” breaches of international law regarding civilian casualties can be confirmed.
The report also states that the verdict was determined using material of a “sensitive nature to which the third parties cited by the Claimant and Intervenors simply do not have access.” Apparently the overwhelming evidence compiled by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Rights Watch (UK), and Oxfam was essentially ruled inconclusive but this secret evidence the High Court refers to is somehow valid.
The verdict also challenged the credibility of the NGO’s evidence; stating that their accounts “suffer” from “relative weaknesses” by using “second-hand information” and ground-witnesses who don’t understand the full circumstances surrounding the airstrikes and have a skewed opinion. The verdict claims that since their information is coming from Saudi-coalition military authorities, it is deemed stronger than that provided by the NGO’s. So basically the Saudis’ word holds more weight than the people they’re killing on a daily basis.
Not only this, but the verdict criticized the NGO’s for not providing their own first-hand accounts either from themselves our journalists on-the-ground in certain instances. First of all, there are many Yemeni journalists on-the-ground documenting the airstrikes and destruction complete with photos and video. Indeed based on this alone, the evidence is damning. According to Yemen’s military media, the Saudis are also still using internationally-banned weapons like cluster bombs and chemical weapons.
But Saudis’ have imposed an air blockade over Yemen. This means that the Sana’a airport is completely shut down to commercial flights. To top it off, journalists and aid workers are banned from flying on UN-chartered planes– the only planes (well, and warplanes) moving people in-and-out of the war torn country. The only routes into Yemen for journalists now are extremely dangerous: either driving through Saudi Arabia or Oman and Southeast Yemen which has a strong al-Qaeda presence.
The judges also concluded that the humanitarian issue was already being addressed since the Saudis have set up an investigation board called the Saudi Joint Incidents Assessment Team. So far, they’ve investigated 20 airstrikes. To put that into perspective, the Saudi-coalition drops nearly 100 airstrikes on various Yemeni provinces each day. So just like the United States in Iraq, the Saudis will be investigating themselves for their own war crimes. And of course, they’ve determined they’ve done nothing wrong.
Seven million people face famine in Yemen today. Yemen imports nearly 80% percent of their food supply and the Saudis have imposed a blockade on all imports. 1,700 people have died just since April due to a cholera outbreak. About 300,000 have been infected and the number is still rising. Due to the blockade, medicine and basic cleaning materials like bleach are hard to come-by.
Also published on Medium.