Human Rights

MP urged not to bow to Saudis and ‘whitewash’ Yemen war crimes

A Westminster committee has been urged not to bow to Saudia Arabia and “whitewash” alleged war crimes in Yemen in a report out this week.

The Committees on Arms Exports Controls (CAEC) has been investigating the use of UK-made bombs in Yemen’s war.

MP’s began an inquiry after allegations of war crimes against a Saudi Arabian coalition dropping bombs made in Fife.

The Saudis support the ousted Yemeni President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

A leaked draft of CAEC’s report last week revealed that MPs would call for a suspension of UK arms sales to the Saudis after strong evidence of war crimes by the coalition.

But The Ferret understands the committee is now under intense pressure to water down its report following pressure by the Saudis.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt and Labour MP John Spellar, both members of CAEC, have tabled 130 amendments to change the report.

They have requested that CAEC’s call for a suspension of UK arms sales to the Saudis is removed.

Blunt also said controversially that the House of Commons should hire private investigators to find out who leaked CAEC’s report to BBC Newsnight.

The split between MPs on CAEC came as the Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir visited London last week to lobby MPs.

Jubeir denied claims by human rights groups that Saudi warplanes had targeted civilians.

The Ferret recently revealed links between arms firms in Scotland and alleged war crimes in Yemen.

CAEC’s report is due to be published this week.

Douglas Chapman, SNP MP and member of CAEC said: “The Arms Exports Controls Committee are still deliberating over the final report on UK arms sales to the region. Any MP worth their salt should be trying to see this committee report finalised as speedily as possible especially if any of the recommendations contained in the report helps trigger the opportunity to avoid any more lives being lost unnecessarily and if it creates the space for more humanitarian aid to get into the country.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “MPs must resist all attempts by the Saudi Arabian government and commercial interests to whitewash the crimes that have been committed against the people of Yemen.”

This story was published by the Sunday Mail on 11th September 2016.

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