David Cameron has refused to launch an inquiry into British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying arms exports are "carefully controlled".
A UN panel investigating the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign in Yemen uncovered "widespread and systematic" attacks on civilian targets in violation with international humanitarian law.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the Prime Minister to launch an inquiry into arms exports to Saudi Arabia in light of the report's conclusions, and to suspend arms sales until the review had concluded.
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
In October 2014, three lawyers, Dr Abdulrahman al-Subaihi, Bander al-Nogaithan and Abdulrahman al-Rumaih , were sentenced to up to eight years in prison for using Twitter to criticize the Ministry of Justice.
In March 2015, Yemen’s Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was forced into exile after a Shia-led insurgency. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition has responded with air strikes in order to reinstate Mr Hadi. It has since been accused of committing war crimes in the country.
Women who supported the Women2Drive campaign, launched in 2011 to challenge the ban on women driving vehicles, faced harassment and intimidation by the authorities. The government warned that women drivers would face arrest.
Members of the Kingdom’s Shia minority, most of whom live in the oil-rich Eastern Province, continue to face discrimination that limits their access to government services and employment. Activists have received death sentences or long prison terms for their alleged participation in protests in 2011 and 2012.
All public gatherings are prohibited under an order issued by the Interior Ministry in 2011. Those defy the ban face arrest, prosecution and imprisonment on charges such as “inciting people against the authorities”.
In March 2014, the Interior Ministry stated that authorities had deported over 370,000 foreign migrants and that 18,000 others were in detention. Thousands of workers were returned to Somalia and other states where they were at risk of human rights abuses, with large numbers also returned to Yemen, in order to open more jobs to Saudi Arabians. Many migrants reported that prior to their deportation they had been packed into overcrowded makeshift detention facilities where they received little food and water and were abused by guards.
The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to deny access to independent human rights organisations like Amnesty International, and they have been known to take punitive action, including through the courts, against activists and family members of victims who contact Amnesty.
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for using his liberal blog to criticise Saudi Arabia’s clerics. He has already received 50 lashes, which have reportedly left him in poor health.
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Dawood al-Marhoon was arrested aged 17 for participating in an anti-government protest. After refusing to spy on his fellow protestors, he was tortured and forced to sign a blank document that would later contain his ‘confession’. At Dawood’s trial, the prosecution requested death by crucifixion while refusing him a lawyer.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 aged either 16 or 17 for participating in protests during the Arab spring. His sentence includes beheading and crucifixion. The international community has spoken out against the punishment and has called on Saudi Arabia to stop. He is the nephew of a prominent government dissident.
Mr Corbyn said: "The report has documented that coalition forces have conducted air strikes targeting civilians and civilian objects in violation of international humanitarian law - including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees, civilian residential areas, medical facilities, schools and mosques.
"These are very disturbing reports. In the light of this, will the Prime Minister agree to launch immediately an inquiry and a full review into the arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia, and suspend those arms sales until that review has been concluded?"
Mr Cameron replied: "As the Right Honourable gentleman knows, we have the strictest rules for arms exports [of] almost any country anywhere in the world.
"And let me remind him we are not a member of the Saudi-led coalition, we are not directly involved in the Saudi-led coalition's operations. British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes.
Promising to look into the report, he added: "But our arms exports are carefully controlled and we are backing the legitimate government of the Yemen, not least because terrorist attacks planned in the Yemen would have a direct affect on people in our country.
"I refuse to run a foreign policy by press release, which is what he wants, I want a foreign policy which is in the interests of the British people."
British arms companies took advantage of Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen by increasing arms sales to the country's autocratic government by over a hundred times.
Commenting on the UN report, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allan Hogarth said: “We’ve been calling for an independent international inquiry to investigate alleged violations by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, and the UN panel will certainly add weight to that call.
“As a major supplier of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the UK government ought now to do what it should have done months ago - suspend export licences for all further UK arms bound for Saudi Arabia that could be used in Yemen.
“We also want to the see the UK government supporting these mounting calls for an independent inquiry into the bloody conflict in Yemen. Thousands of civilians have already died and it’s been utterly dismaying to see Downing Street brushing aside extremely serious concerns about the reckless conduct of Saudi Arabia in this devastating conflict.”
During PMQs, Mr Cameron also sparked outrage by referring to the Calais refugees as "a bunch of migrants".Reuse content