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Protestors force Saudi ship to leave France without weapons cargo

Leaked classified French military documents published last month showed that French weapons are being widely used in the coalition's bombing campaign "including in civilian zones."

PortandTerminal.com, May 11, 2019

France is among other Western countries fueling the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of civilians in Yemen

Le Havre, France – A Saudi vessel that had been due to load weapons at the French port of Le Havre on Friday set sail without them and headed for Spain, a day after a rights group protested and blocked the cargo on humanitarian grounds.

The French human rights organization whose protests led to the Saudi ship leaving empty handed called it a “victory for mobilized civil society”.

The Saudi vessel Bahri-Yanbu leaving the French port of Le Havre empty handed

French rights group ACAT argued in a legal challenge on Thursday that the consignment contravened a U.N. treaty because the arms could be used against civilians in Yemen.

France, along with other Western countries including the U.S. and U.K., has been supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition bombing Yemen. In so doing, human rights campaigners say that they “risk complicity in committing grave violations of the laws of war.”

“The article says that one country cannot authorize the transfer of weapons, if, at the time of the authorization, the country knew that weapons could be used to commit war crimes,” said lawyer Joseph Brehem, speaking on behalf of ACAT.

The French rights group ACAT rights tried to block the Saudi weapons cargo on humanitarian grounds

A French judge threw out that legal challenge but the Bahri-Yanbu set course for Santander shortly without the weapons, officials said and ship-tracking data showed.

The saga is an embarrassment for President Emmanuel Macron, who on Thursday defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh leads the pro-government military coalition in the four-year civil war that has devastated Yemen, killed tens of thousands and left much of the population on the brink of famine.

Macron said on Thursday Riyadh, which he called a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism, had assured him the weapons the ship was to load were not to be used against civilians.

European powers are split over arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with France and Britain lobbying against German efforts to toughen the way they are regulated.

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