groups accuse French arms makers of complicity in war crimes


Three NGOs are suing France for supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen

Three human rights groups have sued French arms manufacturers Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France for selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, alleging the sale is complicit in alleged war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The lawsuit, filed by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa International, focuses on 27 airstrikes on four hospitals, three schools and several refugee camps. All of them would be a long way from military targets and the use of weapons manufactured by the three companies.

Dassault is specifically indicted for making possible attacks”against civilians and civilian infrastructure” to sell to the UAE and maintain some 59 Mirage fighter jets and “encouragingviolations of international human rights law by selling 80 Rafale aircraft to the country. MBDA France’s sales of Storm Shadow and Scalp air-to-surface missiles and Thales’ sales of Damocles guidance pods and Scales missile guidance systems are also being convicted in the lawsuit.

Companies have their own responsibility to carry out their risk assessment and they have been trading with Saudi Arabia and the UAE for yearsECCHR’s Canelle Lavite told Reuters on Thursday, explaining that after five years of war in Yemen, the arms dealers would certainly have had to deal with “these copious and consistent international reports documenting the Coalition’s violations” in Yemen. †When we supply weapons to an alleged perpetrator of recurring crimes, we facilitate the commission of those crimes,” she continued.

They should no longer be unaware that their exports could lead to possible criminal liability.

Coalition air strikes have wreaked havoc in Yemen. Weapons produced and exported by European countries, and France in particular, have made these crimes possibleMwatana Executive Director for Human Rights, Abdulrasheed al-Faqih, told Reuters, arguing that “Seven years after this war, the countless Yemeni victims deserve a credible investigation into all perpetrators of crimes, including those who may be complicit

Al-Faqih claimed his organization has documented more than 1,000 attacks on civilians that left 3,000 dead and 4,000 injured.

The three NGOs are not the first to sue leading figures in the coalition. French courts are already hearing complaints against Abu Dhabi’s Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman and even French customs officials.

Amnesty International France and the ECCHR sued customs in September in an attempt to force them to release data on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.disproportionate interference with the fundamental right of the public to receive information.France, the NGOs argued, had continued to ship weapons and provide maintenance and training to the warring factions despite “overwhelming evidence of attacks perpetrated by the military coalition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE… against the civilian population and infrastructure” in Yemen.

Lawsuit filed against French customs after officials refuse to release data on arms exports

The UN confirmed in 2020 that military equipment supplied by Western countries has fueled the conflict in Yemen, which has raged since 2015, leaving more than 150,000 dead and millions on the brink of starvation.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied targeting civilian infrastructure, but insists it has pursued military targets in response to perceived threats. The UAE has responded to UN war crimes allegations by accusing the organization of overlooking Houthi’s guilt for the suffering of civilians.

A ceasefire between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthi rebels, the first since 2016, has been in effect since April 2.

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