Citizen Action Monitor

Saudi arms deal violates international law, says legal scholar

Sale violates “the obligation to respect and ensure the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law”

No 1642 Posted by fw, April 16, 2016

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”Will Rogers

“The revelation that Mr. Dion greenlighted the bulk of this deal runs contrary to the Liberal claim that the Trudeau government’s hands were tied on the Saudi deal. Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal. The Liberal signature on the export permits means the Trudeau government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses. In the memorandum justifying the export permits, the department of Global Affairs reasons that the light armoured vehicles will help Riyadh in its efforts at ‘countering instability in Yemen,’ where the Saudis are fighting Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, as well as combatting Islamic State threats. ‘The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals,’ the memo approved and signed by Mr. Dion said.”Steve Chase, Globe and Mail

Stop digging, Mr. Dion. Just cancel the deal. Save yourself and what’s left of your career in politics — if it’s not already too late. You have become an embarrassment to your government.

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator Thursday March 31, 2016 Cancelling Saudi arms deal would have no effect on human rights: Dion Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion is defending a controversial $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia by saying cancelling it would be a futile gesture because another country would simply supply the combat vehicles to Riyadh instead. “It would not have an effect on human rights in Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Dion predicted, if the Liberals were to scrap a 14-year lucrative contract to build fighting machines that will be equipped with machine guns or anti-tank weapons. International censure of Saudi Arabia is on the increase as rights groups decry an erosion of human rights under the current leadership there. Only two weeks ago, the Dutch parliament voted to stop arms shipments to Saudi Arabia, and in February, the European Parliament passed a motion calling for the suspension of weapons sales to Riyadh. Mr. Dion used a Monday speech on the Liberals’ foreign policy to mount a hard-nosed defence of what is Canada’s largest-ever manufacturing contract – a transaction that was brokered by Ottawa under the former Conservative government and will benefit defence contractor General Dynamics’ London, Ont., plant until 2028. “Riyadh does not care if the equipment comes from a factory in Lima, Ohio or Sterling Heights, Mich., rather than one in London, Ont.,” Mr. Dion said, naming American cities where military suppliers such as General Dynamics have a presence. More than 2,000 workers in Canada would lose their jobs if the government cancelled the deal, the minister predicted. Louise Arbour, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who once sat on the Supreme Court of Canada, was in the audience for Mr. Dion’s speech, and she said the contention that some other country would just take over the contract is “the weakest argument” that could be made. “This argument that if we don’t do it somebody else will do it I find, frankly, the least convincing,” she said. “It is not infused with moral, ethical values.” She said there are better reasons to justify sticking with the Saudi deal and would like to see Mr. Dion “do a balancing of consequences,” such as reputational, financial, jobs and the impact of doing nothing at all, including “Canada being seen as validating a regime that is at odds with a lot of Canadian values.” Ms. Arbour said she hopes the federal government applies more rigour to examining weapons export permits, as it has repeatedly promised. (Source: Globe & Mail) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/cancelling-saudi-arms-deal-would-have-no-effect-on-human-rights-dion/article29427814/ Canada, Human rights, Stephane Dion, arms, deal, armoured trucks, military, foreign, affairs, Saudi Arabia, diplomacy

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator Thursday March 31, 2016

For complete details of this story, including information about the Belgium legal scholar who is lending support to a lawsuit led by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp that seeks to block the deal, clink on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is a repost.

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Canada violating international law with Saudi arms sale: expert  by Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, April 14, 2016

A controversial rationale the Trudeau Liberals are using to justify approving exports of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia – that these machines could help Riyadh prosecute a war in neighbouring Yemen – is figuring prominently in a Federal Court challenge aimed at stopping the shipments.

Eric David, a renowned human rights legal scholar from Belgium who has acted in major international cases, is lending support to a March 21 lawsuit led by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp that seeks to block exports of the weaponized armoured vehicles from Canada.

In an affidavit being added to the lawsuit, Prof. David of the Free University in Brussels says he believes Canada is violating international law by shipping arms to a country already accused of massive human-rights violations in Yemen. A United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen found “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international humanitarian law.

Allowing the “sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia … would violate the obligation to respect and ensure the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Prof. David wrote in a 196-page filing.

“The sale of armoured vehicles … becomes an “internationally wrongful act.”

As The Globe and Mail first reported, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion last week quietly approved export permits covering more than 70 per cent of the $15-billion transaction with Saudi Arabia – a decision that represents the most vital step in determining whether a weapons shipment to a foreign country can proceed or whether it’s “illegal,” as Ottawa calls it.

The revelation that Mr. Dion greenlighted the bulk of this deal runs contrary to the Liberal claim that the Trudeau government’s hands were tied on the Saudi deal.

Many observers had assumed the Conservatives had granted export permits when they signed the deal.

The Liberal signature on the export permits means the Trudeau government has taken full ownership of a decision to sell arms to a country notorious for human-rights abuses.

In the memorandum justifying the export permits, the department of Global Affairs reasons that the light armoured vehicles will help Riyadh in its efforts at “countering instability in Yemen,” where the Saudis are fighting Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, as well as combatting Islamic State threats.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals,” the memo approved and signed by Mr. Dion said.

When it comes to Yemen, the Canadian government is choosing its words carefully, noting that so far the Saudis have not been found to be using Canadian-made combat vehicles previously sold to Riyadh to commit rights violations there.

Asked about the Saudis’ conduct in Yemen on Thursday, Mr. Dion said they’re not the only ones that need be held to account. “There are serious concerns that should be raised about all of the parties” fighting in Yemen, Mr. Dion told the Commons foreign affairs committee Thursday, widening the matter to include the conduct of Houthi rebels.

“As far as Yemen is concerned, our priority is to have a peaceful solution found.”

Separately, Thursday, Mr. Dion offered only mild support for an NDP proposal by MP Hélène Laverdière to create a Commons committee that would scrutinize arms exports. “I think it’s an interesting proposal. I am not sure it’s the priority right now – but the committee can certainly decide,” the minister told the foreign affairs committee.

Saudi Arabia is regularly ranked among the “worst of the worst” on human rights by Freedom House.

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