OFFICIALS for the EU’s top diplomatic chief yesterday confirmed they are to “look into” calls by a Scots MEP to investigate UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Alyn Smith wrote to High Representative Federica Mogherini asking for an official probe into the trade with the absolute monarchy by EU member states, including the UK.
The call comes in light of a UN report which claims to have identified almost 120 instances of Saudi-led raids on Yemen in breach of international humanitarian law.
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According to the EU’s own rules, member states cannot provide weapons to countries where there is “a clear risk that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”.
The UK made £1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia in just three months last year, with France, Italy, Belgium and Spain also involved in the trade.
Yesterday an EU spokesperson said the union’s common position on arms sales is “binding for all members states and implemented under their responsibility”.
In a statement to The National, officials said: “We can confirm receiving a letter and that we are looking into it. On the situation in Yemen, we strongly believe that the solution to this crisis must be a political one.
“One of the EU’s main concerns remains the implementation of immediate steps leading to a durable ceasefire. Previous ceasefires have failed to take hold due to multiple violations by the parties. It is crucial that the parties implement confidence-building measures, including the full respect of international human rights and humanitarian law.
“In Yemen’s dramatic situation, ensuring accountability for violations is an important part of the process to achieve a lasting settlement of the current conflict.”
Earlier this week Smith, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, said: “We cannot continue sending our bombs to whoever buys them, regardless of their consideration for human life.
“We should suspend our current and past licences to the Saudis.”