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10 May 2019 Rights groups block Saudi vessel from loading French arms cargo

On 9 May, two French human rights groups Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT) and Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines (ASER) blocked the loading of weapons onto a Saudi Arabian boat (called Bahri-Yanbu) that was due to dock in Le Havre, a port in northern France, later that day. The activists argued the cargo contravened the UN Arms Trade Treaty which regulates the international trade of conventional weapons and bans the sale of weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes, reported Reuters. The Saudi vessel set sail without the arms cargo and headed towards Spain, where it arrived early on Monday 13 May at the Port of Santander. French President Macron defended the arms sales, describing Saudi Arabia and the UAE as allies in the fight against “terrorism”, saying he had received guarantees that the arms wouldn’t be used against civilians. The protests by the groups came weeks after an online investigative site published leaked French military intelligence that showed weapons sold to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, were being used against civilians in Yemen’s war, read Al-Jazeera.