Oxfam accuses Government of misleading MPs over arms sales

Posted On: 
23rd August 2016

Oxfam has accused the Government of misleading Parliament over arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

A factory in Yemen's capital Sanaa lies in ruins after a Saudi-led air strike last year

The aid charity say British-made arms sold to the Saudis are being used against civilians in the bloody civil war in Yemen.

The Saudi-backed government forces there are battling both Shia insurgents and the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

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The Government has repeatedly said that it abides by its international obligations and keeps arms sales under review.

Oxfam said the UK was now “one of the most significant violators” of the Arms Trade Treaty, which is designed to set standards for weapons sales and stop illegal arms dealing.

The group’s deputy chief executive Penny Marshall will address a conference in Geneva today made up of countries who have signed up to the treaty.

"The UK government is in denial and disarray over its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen," she will say.

“It has misled its own parliament about its oversight of arms sales and its international credibility is in jeopardy as it commits to action on paper but does the opposite in reality."

A government spokesman insisted the UK was abiding by its legal commitments.

"The government is satisfied that extant licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK's export licensing criteria," he said.

"The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to international humanitarian law (IHL) is whether there is a clear risk that those weapons might be used in a serious violation of IHL [international humanitarian law]."