Responding to a House of Commons statement today by the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

“This is a deeply cynical move to restart business as usual when it comes to Saudi arms sales.

“How the Government can seriously describe a five-year Saudi-led aerial assault on Yemen which has seen numerous examples of civilians killed in schools, hospitals, funeral halls and market places as a set of ‘isolated incidents’ is almost beyond comprehension.

“This seems like an attempt to rewrite history and disregard international law.

“The UK is bypassing its obligations under the international arms control framework. Its approach to this decision has effectively rendered our own protections meaningless.

“Like others involved with this case, we will be carefully considering this alarming statement from the International Trade Secretary and considering next steps. Meanwhile we’re calling for a much-needed, root-and-branch overhaul of the UK’s failing arms control system.”

Today’s decision signals the resumption of new licences for UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia despite a lack of due consideration of the widespread and systematic nature of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen – an issue the UK Government appears to be circumventing by insisting that previous violations have been only “isolated incidents”.