NGOs petition ICC to probe European firms’ role in alleged war crimes

12 December 2019 (Last Updated December 12th, 2019 12:42)

Six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate European defence companies’ role in the alleged war crimes in Yemen.

Six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate European defence companies’ role in the alleged war crimes in Yemen.

The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Amnesty International, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Mwatana for Human Rights, Centre Delàs and Rete Disarmo appealed to the Prosecutor of the ICC to investigate the role of senior officials of the arms companies linked to the allegations.

In a 300-page document, the NGOs called for a fair investigation to determine whether responsibility could be fixed on company executives and government officials for supplying arms that were used by the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict.

The file accused that the executives of the arms manufacturers and other officials should be held accountable for equipping the coalition with weapons and equipment that were used in 26 airstrikes on schools, civilian population, hospitals and world heritage sites.

The complaint accused several companies of complicity in the alleged war crimes. The list includes BAE Systems, Airbus units in Germany and Spain, Dassault Aviation, MBDA UK, MBDA France, Raytheon Systems UK, Rheinmetall’s Italian arm, Thales France, and Leonardo.

Amnesty International Arms Control Researcher Patrick Wilcken said: “An ICC investigation would be an historic step towards holding arms company executives accountable for their business decisions.

“The reality is that everybody involved in selling weapons to the Saudi Arabia / UAE-led coalition bears some responsibility for how those weapons are used. This includes company executives, as well as government officials.

“The ICC Prosecutor can send a clear message that it will hold corporate actors to account if they are involved in the most serious crimes.”

In a release, Amnesty argued that company officials cannot hide behind the argument that the responsibility solely lies with the governments as they are the approving authority for granting export licences.

The NGO stated that the executives could have made a decision to stop providing their equipment to the coalition in the wake of evidence suggesting violations in the war-torn country.