From Stephen Twigg MP, Chair
To Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Foreign Secretary
Thank you for your letter of 9 March, in which you confirm that, based on the information available to you, you are satisfied that all extant UK licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia are compliant with Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. I also note the comments you made in a speech on 10 February at the Institute of Directors to the Conservative Middle East Council, that you had looked at every allegation of breach of International Humanitarian Law and had found no evidence of a breach of International Humanitarian Law.
I recognise that mistakes are made in war and note that the coalition has confirmed that one airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontiėres hospital in Yemen was due to error. However, that airstrike was one of three that have hit protected Médecins Sans Frontiėres clinics in Yemen. The UN has also identified 119 violations of IHL, and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented more than 60 IHL breaches. The International Development Committee heard very compelling evidence of breaches of IHL from those working on the ground in Yemen.
The Committee will be considering its Report on the crisis in Yemen after the Easter recess. I am writing to you as a courtesy, ahead of that meeting, to give you the opportunity to set out the basis on which you have made the very clear assertion that there is no evidence of breaches of IHL during the conflict in Yemen.
To allow the Committee to consider your reply alongside the evidence we have heard and read, I would be grateful if you could reply to this letter by Thursday 7 April.
Stephen Twigg MP
Chair of the Committee
29 April 2016