17:34 GMT +313 November 2019
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    A doll is seen on a bed in a damaged house destroyed during a Saudi-led air strike in old Sanaa city, Yemen, September 24, 2016.

    'Profits Over Human Rights': UK Slammed After Blocking Yemen Investigation

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    The UK has been accused of blocking efforts to establish an independent investigation into alleged Saudi Arabian breaches of international law in Yemen, with critics telling Sputnik that London is putting “arms company profits ahead of human rights.”

    A number of human rights groups have taken aim at Theresa May's government after a Dutch proposal for the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to set up an international investigation into the conflict in Yemen was replaced by a watered-down replacement.

    The UK refused to support the Netherlands' proposal for an independent investigation into alleged crimes in Yemen, with the plans replaced by a UN high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) mission, which was far below what human rights groups were calling for.

    ​In an open letter to the HRC, campaign group Human Rights Watch said "the council has missed critical opportunities to address alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Yemen," while slamming Saudi-led inquiries into alleged attacks on victims.

    ​"Over the past year, the parties have demonstrated they are not committed to carrying out credible and impartial investigations that would lead to the prosecution of suspected perpetrators in fair trials and ensuring justice and reparations for victims," the group said.

    "The inquiry should establish the facts, collect and preserve information related to violations and abu­ses with a view to ensuring that those responsible for crimes are brought to justice in fair trials."

    Increasing Pressure on the UK

    Following the revelations, the UK — a key western ally of Saudi Arabia — which had worked to scupper plans for an independent investigations, critics have taken aim at Theresa May's government, particularly over the continued sale of arms to Riyadh.

    "If arms export controls mean anything, then the UK must stop arming the Saudi regime and work towards a peaceful solution. It must call for an independent investigation into the conduct of the war and end its uncritical political support for the Saudi regime," Andrew Smith, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), told Sputnik.

    ​CAAT has initiated legal proceedings against the British government, calling on PM May to out aside geopolitical ties and suspend arms sales to Riyadh.

    "Unfortunately, the UK government has supported the Saudi regime for decades now. There will be a number of geopolitical considerations, but Saudi Arabia is by far the largest buyer of UK arms. The government has put arms company profits ahead of human rights," Mr. Smith said.

    ​Human rights groups estimate that 3,800 civilians have been killed since Saudi Arabia joined the conflict in Yemen in March last year, with Saudi officials accused of targeted civilian targets and residential areas throughout its sustained bombing campaign.


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    Saudi airstrikes, arms sales, civilian deaths, war crimes, airstrike, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), British Conservative Party, Human Rights Watch, Andrew Smith, Theresa May, Yemen, Europe, Middle East, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia
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