The Hague/Sana’a/Berlin, 12 December 2019 – Eurofighter, Tornados, MK 80 series bombs – European arms are used in the war in Yemen, there is ample and reliable evidence of this. Are therefore European arms companies’ executives and licensing officials potentially aiding and abetting alleged war crimes committed by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Yemen? This question is at the core of a ground-breaking Communication submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 11 December 2019.
In a joint Communication, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Mwatana for Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Campaign Against Arms Trade, Centre Delàs and Rete Disarmo call upon the OTP to investigate the legal responsibility of corporate and political actors from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.
The Communication focuses on the role of the following companies: Airbus Defence and Space S.A. (Spain), Airbus Defence and Space GmbH (Germany), BAE Systems Plc. (UK), Dassault Aviation S.A. (France), Leonardo S.p.A. (Italy), MBDA UK Ltd. (UK), MBDA France S.A.S. (France), Raytheon Systems Ltd. (UK), Rheinmetall AG (Germany) through its subsidiary RMW Italia (Italy), and Thales (France).
Despite documented attacks on civilian homes, markets, hospitals and schools conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led military coalition, several transnational companies based in Europe continued and continue to supply Saudi Arabia and the UAE with weapons, ammunition and logistical support. European government officials authorized the exports by granting licenses.
“Saudi/UAE-led coalition airstrikes have caused terrible destruction in Yemen. Weapons produced and exported by the US and Europe have enabled this destruction. Five years into this war, the countless Yemeni victims deserve credible investigations into all perpetrators of crimes against them, including those potentially complicit. We’re hoping that the ICC can play a role in starting to fill the current, cavernous accountability gap in Yemen,” stated Radhya Almutawakel, chairperson of Yemeni organization Mwatana for Human Rights.
“European companies – and indirectly European states – have profited from arms exports to the Saudi/UAE-led coalition. At the same time, these arms are used in Yemen in international humanitarian law violations that may amount to war crimes,” said Linde Bryk, Legal Advisor at ECCHR, on behalf of the organizations that submitted the Communication. “By seeking an investigation into corporate executives and government officials, the Communication seeks to hold to account powerful actors involved in the arms trade, and to close the corporate impunity gap.”
The 350-page Communication drafted by ECCHR, and substantiated by evidence gathered by Mwatana for Human Rights on-site in Yemen, details 26 airstrikes conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition which may amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute.