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EU parliament urges arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi murder, Yemen war

European lawmakers call for sanctions on Riyadh over killing of Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen war
European lawmakers called on EU members to follow Germany, Finland, and Denmark in restricting arms sales to Riyadh
European lawmakers called on EU member states to follow Germany, Finland, and Denmark in restricting arms sales to Riyadh (AFP/File photo)

The European Parliament has urged European Union member states to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led coalition's involvement in the Yemen war.

An EU arms export report adopted on Thursday called on all members of the 27-nation bloc to "follow the example of Germany, Finland and Denmark, which, after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi adopted restrictions on their arms exports to Saudi Arabia".

The report notes that arms exported to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other members of the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war had been used in the country "where 22 million people find themselves in need of humanitarian aid and protection".

It also urges the remaining EU countries to impose sanctions to prevent further civilian suffering in the Yemen conflict, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

Khashoggi - a royal family insider turned critic - was killed and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a case that tarnished the reputation of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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The former columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi hit squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have not been found.

Earlier this month, the Riyadh Criminal Court commuted death sentences and handed down prison terms of up to 20 years to those convicted of his killing, saying they had been pardoned by the journalist's family. They were sentenced to death last year.

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard called the Saudi prosecutor's verdict on the murder a "parody of justice" that spared "high-level" plotters.

On Tuesday, Denmark's UN Ambassador Carsten Staur read out a statement on behalf of 29 states demanding justice for Khashoggi in a relatively rare rebuke of the oil-rich kingdom before the UN's top rights body.

Meanwhile, Yemen has been wracked with violence between Houthi forces and a Saudi-led military coalition, which has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Last year, the UK government suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a British court ruled that it needed to assess whether the Saudi government violated international law during its military campaign in Yemen.

The ban was later lifted after the UK government found no "pattern" of Saudi airstrikes that breached international law.

Data collated by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade indicate that the UK licensed sales of £6.3bn ($8.2bn) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in the first four years of Riyadh's military intervention in Yemen.