Administrative Court rejects RWM Italia’s appeal: licenses for Italian bombs to Yemeni conflict still revoked

Administrative Court rejects RWM Italia’s appeal: licenses for Italian bombs to Yemeni conflict still revoked

Judges in Rome recognise the risk of using arms against civilians and that safeguarding the population is more important than economic returns

Amnesty International, RWM Reconversion Committee for Peace and Sustainable Work, Fondazione Finanza Etica, Movimento dei Focolari, Oxfam Italia, Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo and Save the Children Italia welcome with satisfaction the decision of the Lazio Regional Administrative Court, which last week rejected the petitions filed by RWM Italia against the government’s decision to permanently revoke the licences to export missiles and aerial bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These are Italian-made devices used by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen conflict, including for indiscriminate bombing of civilians.

The Government’s decision, taken at the end of January 2021 as the first case of its kind since Law 185/90 on military exports came into force, implements a Parliamentary Resolution voted in December 2020 asking the Government to transform the suspension of authorisations already voted by Parliament in July 2019 into a revocation. Both these steps are a positive result of the mobilisation and pressure of the Italian civil society, which, since the beginning of the hostilities in Yemen, has demanded to stop the supply of armaments from our country that are used in that bloody conflict.

Our Organisations welcome the decision of the Lazio Regional Administrative Court, both for the concrete result and, above all, for the reasons given. Although it is a precautionary decision it is indeed significant that, a few months apart, two judges – one criminal (regarding the criminal action against the export of these weapons) and one administrative – have recognised two fundamental points on which our mobilisation is based. In fact, the ruling states that “the risks that the weapons subject to the authorisations issued by UAMA may strike the Yemeni civilian population, in contrast with the clear principles of national and international law, are amply circumstantiated and serious” and that RWM’s appeal cannot be accepted because “the protection and safety of the civilian population prevails over the applicant’s desire to preserve its market share”.

In this regard, lawyer Francesca Cancellaro (representing civil society organisations in the legal action brought in 2018 by Mwatana, ECCHR and Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo) said: ‘This is a further confirmation that the direction is the right one, another step towards justice for Yemeni victims killed by armaments illegitimately exported from our country‘.

Stressing the importance of continuing to ascertain responsibility and any violations of national and international law, our Organisations reiterate once again their request to the Government and Parliament to extend the block of arms exports to all countries involved in the conflict in Yemen and for all types of armaments and military systems.