Minister refuses to publish details of decision to resume Saudi arms sales


The government has refused to publish details of its decision to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as a minister claimed it included confidential intelligence.

The UK paused exporting weapons to the Kingdom last summer amid fears the equipment was being used to commit war crimes in the conflict.

But Ms Truss announced on Tuesday sales were to resume, accepting Saudi forces had committed “possible” breaches of international human rights laws, but claiming these were “isolated incidents.”

Today Labour ’s Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry called on the government to publish details of the government’s assessment of these incidents.

But junior minister Greg Hands refused, saying it was “not appropriate.”

Ms Thornberry said: “It would help all of us to understand the Government’s decision if they would agree to publish the full assessment that underpinned it including the analysis of each so-called isolated incident.

“If the minister believes this decision is not just moral and lawful but correct then surely he has nothing to fear from publishing that assessment and letting us all decide for ourselves?”


Mr Hands replied: “She asked for a full analysis of each incident. Clearly those different incidents that took place in Yemen will be informed often by confidential information that comes to the Government not necessarily from Saudi Arabia.

“It would not be appropriate for us to publish those assessments.

“What we have published however is the consolidated criteria and also the quarterly lists of each licence that has been granted.”

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Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said the group were considering legal options to force the government to change course.

He said: “These arms sales are illegal, immoral and deadly. The decision to resume them can only prolong the war and increase the bloodshed. The government is always telling us how robust its arms export controls are, but nothing could be further from the trust. This brutal bombardment is only possible because of the complicity and support of arms dealing governments like the UK.

“The government says that possible breaches of international law are ‘isolated incidents’, but there have been hundreds of them. These are not statistics, they are people’s lives. Saudi forces have bombed schools, hospitals and homes. They have turned gatherings into massacres and inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen. We are considering all legal options to challenge this appalling decision.”





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