Ann Clwyd MP calls for the parliamentary committee on arms export controls to be reconstituted. Plus Rina Vergano on the shame of London hosting the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair
I am dismayed that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia continue and that it remains the UK’s most important weapons market, despite the Saudi-led coalition having attacked civilians in Yemen in contravention of international humanitarian law (UK approved £283m of arms sales to Saudis after airstrike on Yemen funeral, 24 July). And the killing there continues: the Office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, for example, has reported that a deadly airstrike on 18 July by the Saudi-led coalition on the small village of al-Asheerah in the Taizz governorate, currently controlled by the Houthis, killed 18 civilians, including 10 children and two women, despite any evidence of a military objective in the immediate vicinity of the destroyed house.
First and foremost, what the Saudis, and all other warring parties, are doing in Yemen must be subject to further international scrutiny. In addition, UK arms sales need to be properly scrutinised by parliament. The committees on arms export controls must be reconstituted as soon as the constituent committees are up and running – as agreed by parliamentary colleagues from all parties who have signed early day motion 124. More generally, the UK and the wider international community need to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table: the people of Yemen have suffered enough – with cholera now running rampant, malnutrition widespread and killings ongoing. The fighting has to stop.
Ann Clwyd MP
Chair, all-party parliamentary human rights group and member of the foreign affairs committee