Two human rights groups on Tuesday called for the US, the UK and France to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia due to accusations and evidence that the weapons are being used in attacks against Yemen. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] specifically addressed a letter [text, PDF] to US President Barack Obama [official profile] asking him to cancel a $1.29 billion arms deal [AFP report] with the Government of Saudi Arabia [official website]. AI researchers have spent time in Yemen since March 2015, finding “both unexploded U.S. bombs and identifiable fragments of exploded U.S. bombs among the ruins of Yemeni homes and other civilian objects” [AI press release]. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] also addressed the concern over arms being sold to Saudi Arabia [HRW report]:
For the past year, governments that arm Saudi Arabia have rejected or downplayed compelling evidence that the coalition’s airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen. … By continuing to sell weapons to a known violator that has done little to curtail its abuses, the US, UK, and France risk being complicit in unlawful civilian deaths.”
HRW went on to detail multiple arms deals, attacks that have been committed, and the failure to investigate or acknowledge evidence of the actions.
The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has sparked significant international concern. Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticized the Saudi Arabian coalition forces in Yemen for the more than 3,000 civilian casualties [JURIST report] resulting from the conflict in just the past year. Earlier in the week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned [JURIST report] that the use of cluster bombs by the Saudi-led coalition against neighborhoods in Yemen may amount to a war crime. In January the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said [JURIST report] that the civilian death toll in Yemen had reached nearly 2,800. Also in January the UN World Food Programme appealed to all the parties involved in the Yemen conflict to allow the safe passage of food [JURIST report] to the city of Taiz. In October Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes surrounding the destruction of a hospital [JURIST report] run by Doctors Without Borders [advocacy website] in Yemen.