UK receives report documenting Saudi cover-up of unlawful Yemen airstrikes

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An international legal group presented new evidence to the UK government alleging that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen may cover up evidence of its unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets.

A 288-page report submitted to the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and UK law firm Bindmans contains witness testimony as well as crater and bomb-fragment analysis from scores of strikes carried out by the coalition. It is the most comprehensive independent analysis of the Saudi bombing campaign compiled so far.

The evidence was largely compiled by Mwatana, an independent Yemeni human rights group. In many cases, its evidence, gathered very soon after Saudi bomb strikes, directly contradicts the post-strike investigations conducted by the Saudi-led coalition.

The evidence will continue to put pressure on Britain, which some officials are asking the court to review government permits to export weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.
The report, compiled by journalist and researcher Arron Merat, said the attacks violate humanitarian law by “targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

“This evidence shows not only that Riyadh is targeting Yemeni civilians but that it is covering them up with whitewash ‘investigations’,” Merat said.

Under British law, it is illegal for the government to licence arms exports if there is a “clear risk” that they might be used to deliberately or recklessly kill civilians.

UK ministers have admitted in court filings they did not undertake any independent analysis, but had relied upon the ad hoc reports from the coalition’s own Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT).