The High Court proceeded with a judicial review case determining whether the UK’s decision to continue arms sales with Saudi Arabia was lawful in the context of possible war crimes in Yemen. Opinion piece discussing the whitewashing of abuses by the UK government.
First published in The Canary on 8 February 2017:
Last year, two committee reports – based on an inquiry by the Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) – advised the government that it should immediately halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
A report by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and a report by Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills said that there must be an independent investigation on whether violations of IHL had occurred before continuing sales, acknowledging the Saudis inadequate measures to investigate their own military conduct.
But recommendations from MPs on both sides of the political aisle heavily watered down the reports, playing down the existence of ‘evidence’.
The UK government refused to encourage an independent investigation until it saw what the Saudis come up with first.
It’s the Saudi war crimes investigation unit’s Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) that investigates potential incidents. FCO documents reveal that the British military has provided JIAT with training. It was also reported that JIAT appointed a judge from Bahrain – another UK ally – himself accused of human rights abuses. This completely discredits the mechanism if it does not completely parody it.