France has been sued by three non-governmental organizations for providing arms to the Saudi coalition fighting in Yemen.
French arms producers Thales and Dassault Aviation were sued by three human rights groups for selling weapons to Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates. They claimed that they are complicit in war crimes in Yemen committed by the Saudi-led coalition.
This lawsuit was initiated by Sherpa International and the Mwatana for Human Rights and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. It focuses on 27 strikes that targeted four hospitals and three schools as well as several refugee camps. They were all far away from targets military and used weapons made by three companies.
Dassault is specifically being sued for making possible attacks “At civilians, civilian infrastructure” by selling to the UAE and providing maintenance for some 59 Mirage fighter planes and “Encourageing” violations of international human rights law by selling 80 Rafale planes to the country. MBDA France’s sale of Storm Shadow and Scalp air-to-ground missiles and Thales’ sale of Damocles guidance pods and Scales missile guidance systems are also condemned in the suit.
“It is up to the companies whether they do their risk assessments. Companies trade with Saudi Arabian and UAE over many years.,” the ECCHR’s Canelle Lavite told Reuters on Thursday, explaining that after five years of war in Yemen the arms dealers were certain to have encountered “these abundant and consistent international reports that document the coalition’s violations” in Yemen. “We facilitate the commission and perpetrator of repeated crimes if we give weapons to an accused perpetrator,” she continued.
It is important for them to be aware that exports could lead to criminal liability.
“The coalition’s airstrikes have caused terrible destruction in Yemen. These crimes have been made possible by weapons produced in Europe, France and other European nations.,” the executive director of Mwatana for Human Rights, Abdulrasheed al-Faqih, told Reuters, arguing that “Seven years after the start of this war, the many victims in Yemen deserve credible investigations into every perpetrator of crime, even those who may be complicit..”
Al-Faqih stated that his group has recorded over 1000 attacks on civilians, resulting in 3,000 deaths and 4,000 injuries.
These NGOs aren’t the only ones to sue leaders in the coalition. French courts are already hearing complaints against Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and even France’s customs authority.
Amnesty International France and the ECCHR sued the customs authority in September in an effort to force them to release records of exports of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, calling their refusal to do so up to that point a “Unfair interference with the right of the public receive information.” France, the NGOs argued, had continued to ship weapons and provide maintenance and training to the belligerents despite “overwhelming evidence of attacks committed by the Saudi Arabian-UAE military coalition…against civilian populations and infrastructure” in Yemen.
French officials refusing to reveal records on arms exports have led to a court case against them.
In 2020, the UN stated that Western countries were fueling conflict in Yemen. The war has been going on since 2015. It left over 150,000 people dead, and millions of people hungry.
Saudi Arabia repeatedly denies that it targeted civilian infrastructure. Instead, the country insists that military targets were pursued in response to threats. UN war crimes accusations have been denied by the UAE. The UAE responded accusing UN of overlooking Houthi responsibility for civilian suffering.
Since April 2, a truce has been in place between the Saudi-led alliance and the Houthi rebels. This is the first such agreement since 2016.