Two Belgian peace and human rights institutions have decided to lodge a criminal complaint against companies selling military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The Coordination Nationale pour la Paix et la Démocratie (CNAPD – National Coordination for Peace and Democracy) and Ligue des Droits Humains (LDH – Human Rights League) say these companies have illegally exported the arms and weapons to the Middle Eastern country.
In June 2018, the two associations, supported by the Belgian Francophone section of Amnesty International, AIBF, got Belgium’s State Council to suspend and cancel licenses for the export of arms and weapons to Saudi Arabia that had been granted to the companies by the Government of Wallonia. However, it later appeared that the licenses had been implemented and the arms delivered to Saudi Arabia.
CNAPD and LDH argue that the implementation of the licenses since 2017 violates the Walloon decree on arms exports since Saudi Arabia is involved in a conflict. The associations sent this and other information to the Office of the Royal Prosecutor in Liège, and a judicial investigation was opened on 5 April.
CNAPD and LDH also say they intend to hold the government to account, especially since Belgian Customs allowed the arms to leave the country even though their licenses prohibited them from exported to Saudi Arabia.
“Our associations wrote beforehand to the customs asking them to enforce the clause contained in the licenses, namely, not to allow arms to leave the national territory for Saudi Arabia,” they noted. “Despite that, Customs authorised the departure of those arms, in flagrant contradiction with this clause.”