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Dutch Parliament Passes Landmark Bill Calling for Saudi Arms Embargo

© Flickr / Colm MacCárthaighDutch flag
Dutch flag - Sputnik International
The Dutch parliament has passed a landmark resolution calling on the government to halt the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, accusing the Gulf kingdom of "violating international humanitarian law" as a result of its military offensive in Yemen.

The bill is the first of its kind to be passed by a European Union member state following developments in the EU parliament last month, where MEPs voted in favor of a bill demanding a complete arms embargo on Saudi Arabia

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Sputnik International
Dutch Ahead of the Curve on Saudi Arms Exports After EU Votes for Ban

The Dutch bill cited a UN Panel of Experts report in January, which found that 119 sorties carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had violated international law, while MPs also pointed to Riyadh's continued use of the death penalty as reasons behind the decision.

Following the passing of the bill, the government has now been asked to place a ban on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as any other exports that could violate human rights.

The UN has estimated that 6,000 people, including 3,000 civilians, have been killed in Yemen since Riyadh began its military offensive against Houthi rebels in the country in 12 months ago, with officials last year declaring that the Saudi-led bombing campaign was responsible for two-thirds of civilian deaths.

Saudi officials have continuously denied allegations that their airstrikes have been responsible for mass civilian casualties.

© REUTERS / Anees MahyoubA view of buildings destroyed during recent fighting in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz March 14, 2016.
A view of buildings destroyed during recent fighting in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz March 14, 2016. - Sputnik International
A view of buildings destroyed during recent fighting in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz March 14, 2016.

However just hours after the developments in Dutch parliament, Riyadh was facing fresh allegations that a Saudi bomb was responsible for destroying a civilian market in north-western Yemen, which Houthi figures say claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

Pressure on Other EU States to Act

The decision is a blow for Saudi Arabia and is also expected to increase the pressure on other EU member states to follow the Netherlands and implement their own arms embargoes. 

Saudi Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz arrives to attend a graduation ceremony of members of Saudi Special Forces in the capital Riyadh, on May 19, 2015. - Sputnik International
Growing Anger at French Honor for Top Saudi Amid Human Rights Claims

The UK, France and Germany have been heavily criticized for their continued sale of arms to the Gulf kingdom, amid mounting evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has violated international law on numerous occasions. 

The UK government is currently facing potential legal action over London's continued sale of arms to Riyadh, with the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) group initiating formal legal action in the UK High Court.

Rosa Curling from legal firm Leigh Day, which is representing CAAT, said there was "overwhelming" evidence that UK arms were contributing to the breaches of international law in Yemen.

"If there is a clear risk that arms exported from the UK might be used to violate international humanitarian law, the UK has a legal obligation not to grant licenses for the export of military equipment and arms… We can see no reasonable basis upon which the government could conclude there is not such a risk in relation to exports to Saudi Arabia. The evidence is overwhelming."

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