Rights groups try to block Saudi vessel loading French arms
Updated : May 10, 2019 09:10 AM IST
Two French human rights group on Thursday sought to block the loading of weapons onto a Saudi Arabian vessel that is due to dock in northern France later in the day, the groups said, arguing the cargo contravened an international arms treaty. The move comes weeks after an online investigative site published leaked French military intelligence that showed weapons sold to the kingdom, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, were being used against civilians in Yemen's war. France is one of Saudi Arabia's main arms' suppliers, but Paris has faced increasing pressure to review its sales because the four-year-old conflict has shattered Yemen's economy and created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Speaking on behalf of rights group ACAT, lawyer Joseph Brehem told Reuters he had filed a legal suit to prevent the weapons being loaded aboard the Bahri-Yanbu, a cargo ship operating for Saudi Arabia's defence and interior ministries, on the basis of an article of the UN Arms Trade Treaty. A second group, ASER, has also filed the same complaint at a different court. "The article says that one country cannot authorise the transfer of weapons if at the time of the authorisation, the country knew that weapons could be used to commit war crimes," he said. A judge will announce a decision on the case on Friday.