Amnesty International yesterday demanded an investigation into what it described as "the role of the European arms companies in violating international humanitarian law in Yemen."
Referring to its recent joining to the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Amnesty called on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) "to investigate the role of the executives of the European arms companies and licensing officials in violations of international humanitarian law," adding that the arms deals were amounting to "war crimes in Yemen."
The ECCHR, supported by five non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recently submitted a 300-page memo with supporting evidence to the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), in which the rights centre called on the ICC "to investigate whether high-ranking officials, from both European companies and governments, could bear criminal responsibility for supplying arms used by members of the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led Coalition in potential war crimes in Yemen."
An Amnesty arms control expert said that the ICC investigation would be a "historic step towards holding arms company executives accountable for their business decisions," stressing that "everybody involved in selling weapons to Saudi Arabia/UAE-led Coalition bears some responsibility for how those weapons are used."
Impoverished Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since that year, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.