New call from 16 NGOs to end of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the face of the risk of complicity in serious violations
16 humanitarian and human rights NGOs today urged the French government to publicly clarify its position on the presence of French weapons in Yemen, following new media reports on the involvement of French-made warships in the implementation of the naval blockade on Yemen that has significantly contributed to worsening the humanitarian crisis in the country.
In the face of legitimate public concern about France’s involvement in the conflict in Yemen, the signatory NGOs urge the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Armed Forces and the Foreign Minister to publicly clarify their position on the use of French weapons in Yemen and France’s compliance with its international commitments.
In its report made public earlier this month, the United Nations Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen stated that the naval blockade imposed by the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen may amount to “collective punishment”, in violation of international humanitarian law, and that the coalition may have used “starvation as a method of war”, which constitutes a war crime.
The open source investigation conducted by Disclose, Arte, Mediapart, Radio France and Lighthouse Reports provides visual evidence of the use of French-made Saudi frigates and Emirati corvettes in the interception of commercial vessels as part of the blockade. Frigates and corvettes, although sold before the war, are still subject to maintenance contracts subject to licences issued by the government. The investigation once again highlights the risk that France and its defence companies may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen.
In the face of the growing number of revelations about the risk of French weapons being used against civilians in Yemen, the French authorities can no longer be content to simply state that France has one of the strictest arms export systems in the world.
The signatory organisations reiterate their call on France to immediately suspend its arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in view of the risk that they contribute to serious violations, in accordance with the recommendations of UN experts. Such a decision would not be unprecedented: since 2016, 12 European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom, have announced measures to suspend or limit their arms exports due to the conflict in Yemen.
- Action Contre la Faim
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- CARE France
- Handicap International
- Human Rights Watch
- Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH)
- Médecins du Monde
- Observatoire des armements
- Oxfam France
- Première Urgence Internationale
- Yemen Solidarity Network
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