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NGOs bring case against French customs over weapons exports

Children walk at a camp for people recently displaced by fighting in Yemen's northern province of al-Jawf between government forces and Houthis, in Marib
FILE PHOTO: Children walk at a camp for people recently displaced by fighting in Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf between government forces and Houthis, in Marib, Yemen March 8, 2020. Picture taken March 8, 2020. REUTERS/Ali Owidha

September 23, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) – Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said they had brought a legal case before the Paris administrative court to order French customs to disclose records over war equipments exports, especially to Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Amnesty International France and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said in a statement that they filed the case after French customs declined to disclose documentation over the potential sale of weapons in connection with the Yemen conflict.

The two NGOs raised concerns that French weapons should be used in the conflict.

“This lack of transparency is a major hurdle to parliamentary, judicial and democratic control over French weapons exports”, they said in a statement.

NGOs said investigative media company Disclose was also among the plaintiffs.

Contacted by Reuters, the French customs had no immediate reaction.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis. The more than six-year long conflict is widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

U.N. investigators said last year weapons provided by Western powers and Iran to the warring sides in Yemen were fuelling the conflict, marked by deadly Saudi-led coalition air strikes and Houthi shelling.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten)

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