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>> A landmark legal case aimed at banning UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen began at London's High Court Tuesday. The case has been brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, which argues British sales of fighter jets and weapons to Saudi Arabia are responsible for much of the misery endured in Yemen.
They also claim the sales are in direct violation of UK and EU laws.>> For two years now, the UK has been complicit in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen. We've seen UK fighter jets and UK bombs essential to that bombardment, essential to the destruction which has taken place.
Now, on paper, UK arms export criteria is very clear. It says if there's a clear risk that weapons might be used, and a serious violation of international humanitarian law, that arms sale should not go ahead. By any common sense understanding, we believe that should end arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.
>> The campaign group will argue that a range of international organizations, including a UN panel of experts and the European Parliament, have branded Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen as unlawful. The judicial review will decide whether the UK must cease issuing export licenses for weapons to Saudi, and freeze any existing ones.
Saudi Arabia is an important market for British arms firms. Since the Yemen bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed more that 3.3 billion pounds worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade. The three day hearing will also involve submissions from Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam.
The High Court is expected to issue its ruling in a few weeks.