The Council of State has suspended four export licences issued by the Walloon regional government for sales of weapons by FN Herstal to Saudi Arabia. The Council of State is an independent judicial body whose job is to scrutinise all matters of governmental action, from communal to federal levels. The complaint was brought at the end of last year by the French-speaking Human Rights League and the pacifist organisation CNAPD.
The Council found that the Walloon government had not carried out enough research into whether the arms in question would be used in a manner in keeping with Belgian law on arms exports. Among which: whether they would be intended for use against their own or other people outside of self-defence. Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a civil war in Yemen.
The two bodies had objected to twenty different export licences issued to FN Herstal by Wallonia, but in the majority of cases it was found that the sales had already taken place. In four cases, the licences, still to be exercised, were scratched.
Saudi Arabia is a major customer for Walloon arms producers, with sales in 2017 of €153 million.