News Code: 2827

Date of Release: 2018-09-03

HRW calls for end to arms sales to Saudis after Yemen bus attack

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia following the bombing of a school bus last month that killed 51 people, including 40 children. The rights group called the attack an apparent war crime and said it places arms suppliers at “risk of complicity in war crimes”. HRW’s […]

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia following the bombing of a school bus last month that killed 51 people, including 40 children.

The rights group called the attack an apparent war crime and said it places arms suppliers at “risk of complicity in war crimes”.

HRW’s statement, released on Sunday, came just hours after A Saudi-led coalition said admitted the bombing was “unjustified”.

A probe, conducted by the Saudi-led coalition, concluded on Saturday that “mistakes” were made in the August 9 air raid in Sa’ada Province. The coalition, which initially defended the bombing saying it hit a “legitimate military target”, has now pledged to hold to account those responsible for the attack.

The attack sparked a wave of international anger and calls by the United Nations Security Council for a “credible and transparent” investigation.

HRW said it received photographs and videos of munition fragments that a lawyer based in Sana’a.

Markings visible on photos and videos of one of the remnants – a guidance fin for a GBU-12 Paveway II bomb, an aerial laser-guided bomb – show it was produced by Pentagon’s top weapons supplier Lockheed Martin, according to the rights group.

“The Saudi-led coalition’s attack on a bus full of young boys adds to its already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools in Yemen,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at HRW.

“Countries with knowledge of this record that are supplying more bombs to the Saudis will be complicit in future deadly attacks on civilians.”

Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, has been bombing Yemen since March 2015 after the Houthis swept across the country. Out of the 16,000-plus raids they have launched since the start of the conflict, only a handful have been investigated, despite nearly a third of all bombs hitting civilian targets.

HRW said it has identified US-origin munitions at the sites of at least 24 other coalition attacks in Yemen.

The UK and France remain major arms sellers to Saudi Arabia, HRW said. Germany and Norway have suspended arms sales to the Kingdom, while the Netherlands and Sweden have limited weapons sales.

Last year, the UN blacklisted the Saudi-UAE alliance for causing the majority of reported child deaths and injuries in Yemen. It also described the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The devastating war has since left nearly 15,000 people dead and sparked what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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