The Medical Association for Prevention of War welcomes the UK Court of Appeal’s finding that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful. Australia must now immediately suspend all military exports to Saudi Arabia.
The Court found that the UK government failed in its legal obligation to make a systematic assessment of the risk of serious violations of International Humanitarian Law by Saudi Arabia.
The UK court ruling has strong implications for Australia. Our government also has an obligation to assess military exports against the risk of human rights abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
Saudi Arabia leads a coalition fighting a protracted war in Yemen. Numerous human rights abuses and breaches of international humanitarian, and human rights law have been alleged. Yemen is the world’s gravest medical and humanitarian crisis.
The Australian Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs and the Defence Export Controls Office continue to defend lethal and military exports to Saudi Arabia.
Officials have not provided evidence that they have lawfully considered the humanitarian risks, and not provided information on how exports are monitored. The nature of the exports themselves have been kept secret. Australian export licences to Saudi Arabia must be suspended.