Canada court permits Saudi arms deal

Canada court permits Saudi arms deal

The Federal Court of Canada on Tuesday refused [judgment, PDF; press release, PDF] to block the Canadian government from selling arms to Saudi Arabia. The challenge was brought before the court by Professor Daniel Turp [professional website, in French] who argued he had a public interest standing to ensure the arms deal was not violating the law [official summary] and did not pose any threat to the citizens of Canada and others. He furthered argued the human rights abuses allegedly committed by Saudi Arabia prevents Canada from selling weapons in the region. The court held that while Turp had standing, the broadness of the Canadian arms law permits the arms deal:

In the impugned decision, the Minister considered the economic impact of the proposed export, Canada’s national and international security interests, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the conflict in Yemen before granting the export permits, thereby respecting the values underlying the Conventions. The role of the Court is not to pass moral judgment on the Minister’s decision to issue the export permits but only to make sure of the legality of such a decision. Of course, his broad discretion would have allowed him to deny the permits. However, the Court is of the opinion that the Minister considered the relevant factors. In such a case, it is not open to the Court to set aside the decision.

Turp has indicated he may appeal [CBC report] the ruling.

In November Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on the US to halt the sale of weapons [JURIST report] to the government of Saudi Arabia. The call came days after the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced a Foreign Military Sale [press release] estimated at $1.29 billion for air-to-ground munitions. The DOD stated that weapons are being exhausted by Saudi forces in counter-terrorism operations and the sale will help the country defend itself against threats from adversaries in the future. However, according to HRW, Saudi airstrikes in Yemen may be violations of laws of war. In March two human rights groups called for the US, the UK and France to stop selling arms [JURIST report] to Saudi Arabia due to accusations and evidence that the weapons are being used in attacks against Yemen.