UK High Court judgement fails to offer protection to civilians

The Methodist Church has expressed its disappointmentand concern following a ruling of the HighCourt, announced earlier this week, allowing the UK to continueto export weapons to Saudi Arabia. 

The High Court judged that the UK Government had gatheredsufficient information to entitle it to rationally conclude thatthere was no 'clear risk' of a 'serious violation of InternationalHumanitarian Law.'

Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of forces against Houthimilitias in Yemen, a conflict which has claimed the lives of over10,000 civilians since 2014.

Despite atrocities taking place on both sides, the largestsingle cause of civilian deaths is thought to be air strikes bySaudi-led coalition forces; which have come under criticism fromthe UN, human rights groups and NGOs.

A UN panel of experts concluded that the bombing campaign ofSa'dah in 2015 represented a grave violation of the principles ofdistinction, proportionality and precaution defined withinInternational Humanitarian Law. 

Yemen is now in the grip of a severe famine and cholera epidemicexacerbated by the destruction of infrastructure and healthfacilities.

Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, madethe following comment following the High Court judgement: "OurGovernment told the High Court that it tracks all allegations ofstrikes on civilians and shares this data with the Saudi militarywho engage in constructive dialogue over incidents of concern.However in the case of the majority of these strikes, the UKGovernment was 'unable to identify a legitimate military target'.In the light of evidence from the UN and elsewhere, it is difficultto understand how the UK Government concludes that there is noclear risk that there might be serious violations of InternationalHumanitarian Law."

The Revd Loraine N Mellor, President of the MethodistConference, added: "The judgement of the High Court yesterday willdo nothing to provide civilians in Yemen with the protection thatthey so desperately need.

Our hearts go out to the people of Yemen who have come underattack from both sides in this brutal civil war and we willcontinue to pray. It is difficult to see how a lasting peace can beachieved through a conflict that kills over 10,000 civilians andleaves 300,000 people infected with cholera."

Jill Baker, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference said:"Many of us try to express our ethical standpoints through the wayin which we spend our money. It seems only right that we alsoexpect ethical standards from our government in engaging in tradingrelationships that respect human rights and international law. Wehold the people of Yemen and those providing assistance in ourprayers."

  • A prayer for Yemen
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