New report details how Canadian weapons are allegedly fuelling Yemen war

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The Trudeau government is facing renewed calls to extremity arms exports to Saudi Arabia pursuing a caller study that alleges determination is “persuasive evidence” that Canadian-made weapons are being utilized successful the warfare successful Yemen, which has killed astatine slightest 233,000 people.

The caller study from the disarmament radical Project Ploughshares and Amnesty International offers a scathing rebuttal to a reappraisal from Global Affairs Canada past twelvemonth that recovered determination was “no credible evidence” that Canadian weapons and subject instrumentality were contributing to Saudi Arabian human-rights violations.

Canada’s $15-billion statement to export airy armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Kingdom – produced by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada successful London, Ont. – has been a governmental contention for the Liberal authorities arsenic Saudi Arabia ranks among the world’s worst connected quality rights.

The study released Wednesday titled “No Credible Evidence” details the ongoing saga since the woody was archetypal approved by the erstwhile Conservative authorities successful 2014 and fixed the final, important greenish airy by Trudeau’s Liberals successful 2015.

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Using authorities records, media reports and summaries of investigations by quality rights monitors astir the world, it purports to amusement that “there is persuasive grounds that weapons exported from Canada to (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), including (light armored vehicles) and sniper rifles, person been diverted for usage successful the warfare successful Yemen.”

“Given the overriding hazard posed by Canadian weapons exports to (Saudi Arabia), Canada indispensable instantly revoke existing arms export permits to KSA and suspend the issuance of caller ones,” the study said.

It besides details photographic grounds from the past fewer years that appears to amusement Canadian-made LAVs, fitted with instrumentality guns and cannons, and PGW Defence Technologies sniper rifles successful Yemen amid clashes betwixt conjugation forces led by Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Yemen struggle has resulted successful an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes similar a deficiency of food, aesculapian services and infrastructure. The UN has called the warfare the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Canadian-made LAVs reportedly operated by Yemeni authorities  forces successful  Hajjah Province, Yemen, May 2018.

Canadian-made LAVs reportedly operated by Yemeni authorities forces successful Hajjah Province, Yemen, May 2018. (YouTube/Screenshot)
Canadian-made LAV-25 reportedly destroyed pursuing clashes with Houthi militants successful August 2019. (Houthi Rebel Media).

One image, sourced from Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, appears to amusement Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ajabi, brigadier wide of the Yemeni forces, photographed connected 2 antithetic occasions successful 2018 holding a PGW Defence Technologies Timberwolf sniper rifle.

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A brigadier wide   successful  the Yemeni equipped  forces, allegedly firing a Canadian-made PGW Defence Technologies sniper rifle

A brigadier wide successful the Yemeni equipped forces, allegedly firing a Canadian-made PGW Defence Technologies sniper rifle. (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism)

This besides follows images from 2015, reviewed by Armament Research Services, an planetary quality consultancy that traces arms, that amusement what appears to beryllium a Canadian-made sniper firearm successful the hands of Houthi fighters.

An representation  from societal  media that appears to amusement   a Canadian-made LRT-3 sniper rifle. (ARES)

An representation from societal media that appears to amusement a Canadian-made LRT-3 sniper rifle. (ARES).

“We’ve seen a clump of open-source photos and video grounds implicit the years of these rifles,” said Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher with Project Ploughshares and co-author of the report. “This is simply a script Canadian officials person to address. They person to find a mode to mitigate the ongoing diversion of weapons, up to and including the cessation of export permits.”

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Between 2016 and 2019, Canada exported astir 5,000 rifles to Saudi Arabia, with the bulk being sniper rifles manufactured by PGW Defence Technologies Inc. successful Winnipeg, Man., according to the report.

PGW Defence Technologies did not respond to questions from Global News, portion General Dynamics Land Systems Canada declined to comment.

Gallagher said the authorities is utilizing an intentionally constrictive absorption erstwhile evaluating the hazard of whether Canadian-made weapons could beryllium utilized oregon diverted to the warfare successful Yemen.

The study alleges Canada is breaking its obligations nether home instrumentality and the planetary Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by utilizing a “flawed hazard assessment” to find whether Canadian weapons could beryllium misused to perpetrate oregon facilitate quality rights abuses. According to Canadian law, Ottawa is required to contradict export permits “if determination is simply a important hazard that the export would effect successful a superior usurpation of quality rights.”

Last year, Global Affairs Canada said that successful bid for a “substantial risk” to hap determination needs to beryllium a “direct, contiguous and foreseeable risk” that the subject export (a limb oregon technology) volition effect successful a antagonistic effect similar violating planetary quality rights instrumentality oregon contributing superior acts of unit against women and children.

“There is nary important hazard that existent Canadian exports of subject goods and exertion to (Saudi Arabia), would beryllium utilized by (Saudi Arabia) to perpetrate oregon facilitate superior violations of (international humanitarian quality rights law), including ‘internal repression,’” the section said successful an April 2020 report.

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The study did enactment the Kingdom’s “overall quality rights grounds remains troubling” and “continues to perpetrate sedate quality rights violations. These see arbitrary and unlawful killings, torture and different cruel and inhumane treatment”

Gallagher pointed to conflicting assessments successful the Global Affairs study that concluded that, portion determination is simply a “substantial risk” that Canadian exports of definite types of subject weapons similar air-to-surface missiles oregon bomber aircraft) would beryllium utilized to perpetrate quality rights abuses successful Yemen, different subject items – including LAVs – posed nary risk. He besides noted that Ottawa’s ain quality assessments person suggested that the Saudi service has utilized older Canadian-made LAVs successful cross-border operations into Yemen.

“This benignant of absorption connected grounds wholly misses the people connected Canada’s obligations nether the Arms Trade Treaty,” Gallagher said. “(Canada) indispensable revoke arms exports if determination is simply a important hazard that a recipient of Canada’s weapons volition usage those weapons to, broadly speaking, bust quality rights.”

Canada was named publically for the first clip past September by a UN radical monitoring the warfare successful Yemen among a database of countries selling arms and fuelling the ongoing fighting.

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Gallagher said Canada should follow an “overriding risk” formulation – required nether the ATT, which Canada became a enactment to successful 2019 – which is acold much restrictive connected arms exports.

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He said the Canadian government’s appraisal omits whether Canadian-made weapons could beryllium utilized to facilitate humanitarian abuses and fails to measure the hazard of Saudi Arabia diverting weapons to Saudi-led conjugation forces successful Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia is unambiguously and uncontroversially 1 of the top opponents to the enjoyment of adjacent basal quality rights connected the look of the earth,” helium said. “Any benignant of scale oregon metric connected quality rights oregon civilian rights, Saudi Arabia is down astatine the bottom.”

“This thought wherever Canada tin equilibrium quality rights portion arming Saudi Arabia doesn’t clasp water.”

The study calls for an extremity to arms exports to the kingdom and the instauration of an arm’s-length advisory sheet of experts to reappraisal Canada’s arms export support process, thing promised by erstwhile overseas affairs curate François-Philippe Champagne past year.

The organizations are besides calling for Canada to update its authorities to halt weapons from being exported that could beryllium utilized successful attacks against civilians and make a explanation “substantial risk” that is accordant with its planetary obligations.

READ MORE: Saudi crown prince approved sidesplitting of Jamal Khashoggi

A spokesperson for Global Affairs said successful a connection that “Canada has 1 of the strongest export controls systems successful the world” and “human rights considerations are present astatine the centre of our exports regime.”

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In 2018, the Trudeau authorities announced a reappraisal of Canada’s existing arms income to Saudi Arabia pursuing reports the Saudi authorities had orchestrated the sidesplitting of writer Jamal Khashoggi. In April 2020, Ottawa lifted the suspension connected caller export permits to Saudi Arabia and announced that permits are being reviewed connected a case-by-case basis.

“These permits are not issued automatically and each of them are cautiously scrutinized,” said GAC spokesperson Jason Kung successful an email. “Any licence exertion wherever determination is simply a important hazard of quality rights violations volition beryllium denied.”

Global Affairs did not respond to questions for an update connected its pledge to make an advisory radical of experts to reappraisal the support process for Canadian subject exports.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been the starring destination for Canadian-made subject exports aft the United States.

According to the 2020 Report connected Exports of Military Goods from Canada, Saudi received astir $1.311 cardinal successful Canadian subject exports, which accounted for astir 67 per cent of the full worth of non-U.S. subject exports.

Included successful the income was astir $74 cardinal worthy of explosives to Saudi Arabia from a Canadian oregon Canadian institution that was issued a brokering permit, with the arms originating successful France.

The merchantability of the explosives was archetypal reported by the Globe and Mail.

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While the authorities reveals fewer details astir the transactions, including the identities of the radical oregon companies involved, it does accidental that the explosives beryllium to a power list, which includes “bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, different explosive devices and charges and related instrumentality and accessories.”

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