Belgian court suspends arms exports to Saudi Arabia


Belgium's Supreme Administrative Court has suspended eight licenses for export of arms to Saudi Arabia, citing the kingdom’s human rights record.

The court said authorities in Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region had failed to examine the kingdom’s human rights record before issuing the permits.

The decision affected planned sales to the kingdom by Belgium’s leading weapons manufacturer FN Herstal, which is based in the region.

Also known as Fabrique Nationale, the company specializes in making firearms, ranging from pistols to heavy machineguns.

Last year, the kingdom bought €153 million ($179 million) worth of arms from the company. Two years earlier, it had bought more than €575 million ($672 million) -- 65 percent of Wallonia’s arms exports.

Last September, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling on the European Union to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia as accusations flew against Riyadh of rampant rights violations and arms abuse.


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