Liz Truss just admitted breaking the law with the most pathetic excuse ever

Liz Truss
Emily Apple

International trade secretary Liz Truss has admitted the government broke the law. And it’s an admission that could have deadly consequences for people in Yemen.

Truss said that £261,450 worth of equipment had been shipped to Saudi Arabia despite the Court of Appeal ruling that arms sales to the regime are “irrational and therefore unlawful”.

And while she apologised for granting the licenses, her excuse was utterly pathetic. She claimed the sales were “inadvertent”.

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After all, who hasn’t at some point in their lives accidentally granted licenses for weapons to a murderous regime?

Yemen

The UN has long described the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as the “worst in the world”. Its report in February highlighted that:

14.3 million people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2 million requiring treatment for acute malnutrition; that includes two million children under-five, and more than one million pregnant and lactating women.

According to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, 91,600 people have been killed in the war with 11,700 reported civilian deaths. Including deaths from hunger, illness, and lack of access to health services, the UN predicts the total number of deaths could reach 233,000 by the end of the year.

On 3 September, the UN’s Kamel Jenoubi said:

The parties to the conflict in Yemen – all the parties – are responsible for numerous violations of human rights, of international law and humanitarian law.

Some of these violations may constitute war crimes.

Not good enough

Given the scale of the conflict and the ruling from the Court of the Appeal, many people weren’t convinced by Truss’s ‘excuse’:

And as one social media user highlighted, this response wouldn’t go down very well with anyone else caught breaking the law:

Meanwhile, Symon Hill from the Peace Pledge Union questioned the double standards in lawbreaking compared to those of us arrested trying to stop Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) – the world’s largest arms fair:

‘More concerned with profits’

Despite the illegality of arms sales to the Saudi regime, its government was invited by the UK government to attend DSEI.

Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade was scathing in his response to the illegal sales:

We are always being told how rigorous and robust UK arms export controls supposedly are, but this shows that nothing could be further from the truth. If the Government cannot be trusted to follow its own rules, or an order from the Court of Appeal, then it must immediately end all arms exports to the Saudi regime and cease all support for this devastating war.

And Smith argued that the UK government is putting profit before people:

The reality is that, no matter how appalling the crisis in Yemen has become, the Government has always been far more concerned with arms company profits than it has with the rights and lives of Yemeni people. This disregard was on full show last week when the Saudi regime was in London buying weapons at the DSEI arms fair.

Smith is right. The government cannot be trusted to follow its own rules. It’s therefore down to all of us to take action to stop this vile and illegal trade. While the government might want to prioritise profit over human life, the rest of us can guarantee that it won’t be allowed to do so without a fight.

Featured image via Flickr – mrgarethm

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  • Show Comments
    1. the gorvernment lectures us on the illegality of knife crime and carrying weapons, then Liz Truss turns up and ‘accidentally’ sells a huge amount of weapons to Saudi Arabia. i’m pretty sure this excuse wouldn’t fly with a youth carrying a knife, i’m also pretty sure the government wouldn’t be happy to see a youth centre selling knives on market stalls to the locals. Hypocrisy of the tories as they have one rule for Britons and one for themselves. in fact i’m not sure ‘hypocrisy’ is a strong enough word in the english language any more for this unelected government

    2. Whatever happened to ignorance is no excuse? it’s not as far as the law is concerned and not if you’re in a position where you should know better. She should be sacked and charged.

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