Lawsuit on France’s Arm Shipment to Saudi...
Recently, three non-governmenatal organisations said they had filed a lawsuit at a Paris court against three top French arms' producers for alleged war crimes complicity in Yemen after selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Attacks on residential buildings, markets and hospitals – which are enabled by weapons exports to the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – make French arms companies potentially complicit in war crimes against civilians in Yemen. Therefore, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), together with Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa International, submitted a criminal complaint with the Paris Court in June 2022. The complaint is against the arms companies Dassault Aviation, Thalès, and MBDA France.
“In our complaint, we make it clear that, when French companies supply weapons to warring parties and national authorities sanction these exports, the respective decision-makers could be aiding and abetting crimes against international law, and that they must be held accountable for this,” stated in the case. “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are two of the most important export markets for French weapons. During the seven years that the war in Yemen has been underway, thousands of attacks by the Saudi- and UAE-led military coalition on civilians and civilian targets have been documented. In spite of this, the companies listed in the complaint continued or continue to supply weapons, ammunition and technical support to states party to the military coalition. For instance, there is evidence that French Mirage fighter planes, as well as tracking systems from Thales and missiles from MBDA France, have been used by the military coalition in Yemen. Even though all warring parties must be held accountable, arms manufacturers play a special role in the conflict, considering that their continued weapons exports enable the illegal attacks on Yemeni civilians.”
Rights groups in France have repeatedly attempted to show that Paris' tacit support for the coalition has prolonged and worsened the conflict. By targeting Dassault Aviation (AM.PA), Thales (TCFP.PA) and MBDA France, the NGOs hope it will keep the subject in the public domain at a time when the United States and its Western allies are seeking to improve ties with Saudi Arabia.
"The coalition's airstrikes have caused terrible destruction in Yemen. Weapons produced and exported by European countries, and in particular France, have enabled these crimes," said Abdulrasheed al-Faqih, Executive Director of Yemeni organisation Mwatana for Human Rights.
French prosecutors are already studying similar complaints filed against Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the French customs authority.
According to Human Rights Watch, France's support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia is even more objectionable as their leaders have failed to improve their countries’ disastrous human rights records domestically, although their public relations efforts to present themselves as progressive and tolerant internationally is in full swing. France's arms sales to and protection of dubious military partnerships in the name of counterterrorism and at the cost of human rights will remain a stain on Macron's diplomatic record.