The British government has invited Saudi Arabian representatives to the world’s largest arms fair, despite a freeze on new arms licences to the country following a court ruling.
Last month judges ruled that the sale of weapons for use in the war on Yemen, was unlawful
The event is scheduled to take place in London in September.
The Independent reports: Graham Stuart, the minister for trade, confirmed a Saudi delegation would be invited to the controversial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event following a parliamentary question.
Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse called the invite “extremely irresponsible”.
“The Saudi government does not share our liberal values,” she told The Independent.
“Their dismal record on human rights and the rule of law should have disqualified them as an arms trading partner long ago.
“Inviting a Saudi delegation to DSEI sends entirely the wrong message. It suggests that we are still open to do business with them and gives the Saudi regime our tacit endorsement.”
The UK has licensed nearly £5bn of arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the start of the Yemen war, where Riyadh leads a coalition conducting airstrikes in support of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Human rights groups have found evidence of British-made bombs at the scenes of war crimes, and research estimates that Saudi-led bombing has killed more than 8,000 civilians.
Protests are expected to greet DSEI when it arrives at London’s Excel Centre in September, with organisers boasting of its “unrivalled scale”.
Government ministers are to deliver speeches as the world’s largest arms producers sell their wares, including bombs, planes, drones, guns and tanks.
Eurofighter jets and Paveway bombs of the kind being used by Saudi forces in Yemen are expected to be promoted to international militaries.
The United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition bombing the country, is listed as a “platinum partner” on DSEI’s official website.’
It says the state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries firm will also be among exhibitors.
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