He also said he would not publish any reports from the British government on individual Saudi strikes, saying he was not free to do so because the information may come from confidential sources.
However, following a written question from Labor MP Zarah Sultana asking for the number of violations or violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015, Defense Minister James Heappey, replied: “As of July 4, the number of suspected cases of violations or violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen listed in the” Tracker “database maintained by the Ministry of Defense (MOD) is of 535. ”
The written response indicates that of the 535 cases, 19 are duplicate entries, which means that some incidents will have been recorded on more than one occasion, probably due to the incomplete nature of the report, and the number of known instances is at least 516.
The last time a comparable number was released by the British government, it was in December 2017, when 318 were recorded, representing an increase of 200 incidents in just over two and a half years.
Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled during a judicial review that the sale of British weapons to Saudi Arabia was illegal because no internal assessment of the legality of the Saudi campaign had been carried out by the British government.
Ministers announced last week that it has now carried out such a review of the Saudi campaign and that it could therefore legally resume the granting of government arms export licenses. He said the review showed that there had been no reason for isolated violations of international law, and that there could therefore be no intention of breaking the law by Saudi Arabia.
The Arms Trade Campaign (CAAT) said it is now examining all legal options to challenge the government’s decision to restart arms sales, and the weak ministerial justification provided to MPs on Monday will lead activists to believe that ‘a new legal action could succeed.
CAAT spokesperson Andrew Smith said, “The government claims that any violation of international humanitarian law is an isolated incident, but the Defense Ministry itself knows of 516.
“These are not statistics, it is people’s lives. Saudi forces bombed schools, hospitals and homes. They turned the rallies into massacres and inflicted a humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We are studying all the legal options to challenge this appalling decision. ”
Britain’s Commerce Department announced resumption of arms sales on Tuesday the day after the Foreign Office first applied individual human rights sanctions to a group of Saudi officials involved in the murder Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Hands said the two issues – individual human rights sanctions and the sale of arms to Yemen – were entirely separate. The timing of the resumption of arms sales has also been questioned as it is increasingly evident that Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across Yemen. A five-year civil war in which Saudi Arabia seeks to dislodge Houthi rebels from the capital Sanaa has claimed up to 20,000 lives.