Humanitarian Law (Yemen)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 5th September 2016.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:36 pm, 5th September 2016

I echo strongly the concerns raised by my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn; the incorrect answers that he and other Members were given were totally unacceptable, as was the time in which they were corrected, which has added insult to injury. It is clear that the assurances this House was previously given on breaches of humanitarian law have proved inaccurate. Do other assurances that we have been given remain valid? In May, the then Minister for Defence Procurement, Mr Dunne, told this House that there was “no evidence” that coalition forces in Yemen had used cluster munitions in civilian areas. Indeed, he claimed that the cluster munitions found in Yemen, which had been responsible for the deaths and maiming of many innocent civilians, had come from “previous conflicts” in the region. Does the Foreign Office stand by that assessment? In May, we also asked a question that that Minister repeatedly failed to answer, so I give today’s Minister an opportunity to answer it: have the coalition forces in Yemen used weapons or planes manufactured in Britain in this conflict? Have they used them to drop cluster munitions? Have they used them to commit breaches of international humanitarian law? If we simply do not know the answers to those questions, is it right to continue selling weapons and planes to Saudi Arabia until we have answers?