The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) held this briefing meeting for Parliamentarians focussing on the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen – timed before the Westminster Hall debate on Human rights and the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia on 8 June led by Margaret Ferrier MP.
The event featured the following speakers:
- Rasha Mohamed, Yemen Researcher, Amnesty International (“RM”)
- Oliver Sprague, Arms Programme Director, Amnesty International UK (“OS”
The key points raised by the speakers:
- During a recent 10-day mission of Amnesty International staff to Yemen in May 2016, the team found evidence that coalition forces have used a UK manufactured BL-755 cluster munition in Yemen. (RM)
- They found the partially exploded bomb in the centre YEMAC (a local demining organisation) was using in Hayran to store unexploded munitions they had collected. The bomb had left many unexploded “bomblets” strewn around a wide area near a farm close to the Saudi Arabian border.
- Evidence appears to indicate that the munition was dropped between October 2015 and January 2016. (RM)
- The bomb was manufactured by Hunting Engineering Ltd in the 1970s. The weapon is known to be in the stockpiles of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (OS)
- Laws applicable to the UK on this issue, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty. The Convention prohibits the involvement of any UK persons in the use, stockpile or transfers of cluster munitions and obligates the UK to take steps to prevent their use. The Arms Trade Treaty, and related EU and national laws, have similar legal implications: where there is a risk of a violation, the UK should deny export licenses. (OS)
- Parliamentarians should call on the UK Government to back an independent investigation into the use of cluster munitions in Yemen and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners.
- UK Parliamentarians can play an important role in unpicking the Government’s responses to questions about use of UK manufactured arms in Yemen. In particular, the precise nature of the ‘assurances’ received from Saudi Arabia should be questioned. (OS)
- The humanitarian situation in the country remains dire and 2.8 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict. Civilians and civilian buildings continue to be targeted, in violation of international humanitarian law. (RM)
Please see Amnesty International’s press release for more information.
The PHRG continues to campaign on human rights issues associated with the conflict in Yemen. PHRG Chair, Ann Clwyd MP, has also tabled an EDM on the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, including our arms trade with the country.