French Arms Not Loaded on Saudi-Destined Ship

Credit: Fabien Montreuil
Credit: Fabien Montreuil

Published May 31, 2019 5:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

The French anti-torture group ACAT has stated that the cargo Bahri Tabuk left for the port of Alexandria in Egypt earlier this week without a cargo of French weapons it claims were destined for use by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Dockers from Fos-sur-Mer, France, helped to prevent loading of the military equipment. "We are delighted to see that French civil society has once again responded and particularly congratulate the dockers of Fos-sur-Mer for their humanist commitment in the fight against these illegal arms transfers," said Bernadette Forhan, President of ACAT-France.

This follows another shipment that was stopped from being loaded on to the Bahri Yanbu in Le Havre, France, two weeks earlier. ACAT took legal action saying the deliveries were illegal under the treaty on the arms trade, signed and ratified by France, because of the high probability that the weapons would be used in Yemen against civilian populations.

However, the Paris Administrative Court rejected a submission filed by ACAT, saying that "the authorization of exit customs of these armaments does not create a characterized and imminent danger for the life of the people.” ACAT counters that the weapons would be in the hands of a country known to commit war crimes against Yemeni civilian populations. A spokesman from Ancile Lawyers alleges that the court did not bother to study the request and just copied its previous decision on the Bahri Yanbu and the port of Le Havre.

ACAT cites that the transfer of arms is illegal since France "is aware, at the time when authorization is requested, that such weapons or property could be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks on civilians or other war crimes "(Arms Trade Treaty, Article 6, paragraph 3). The second criterion of Common Position 2008/944 / CFSP also states that "Member States shall refuse the export authorization if there is a clear risk that the proposed military technology or equipment will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law."

According to a Reuters report, French President Emmanuel Macron has defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE arguing the two countries are crucial allies in the fight against Islamist militants. He has rejected allegations that French-made weapons are used offensively in Yemen.