Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Relatives of victims and one survivor of a deadly airstrike in Yemen, conducted by the Saudi-led military coalition using Italian-made bombs, submitted a complaint against Italy with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The three applicants argue that the Italian judiciary failed to hold arms manufacturer RWM Italia S.p.a. and senior officials of Italy’s National Authority for the Export of Armament (UAMA) accountable for the violation of their right to life, as set out in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The submission to the ECtHR comes in the wake of the dismissal by the judge in Rome of a criminal complaint filed by the applicants in 2018 against the accused corporate and state officials for their role in the supply of weapons which are used in unlawful airstrikes in Yemen. The complaint offers the ECtHR the unprecedented opportunity to ensure that European states provide access to justice for victims of war crimes committed with weapons produced in Europe. The applicants are supported by the human rights organizations Mwatana for Human Rights, Rete Pace e Disarmo and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
On 8 October 2016, the airstrike on the village Deir Al-Ḩajārī killed six members of the Husni family and injured one of the applicants. Bomb remnants found at the site of the attack confirmed that the bombs used in the unlawful air strike were manufactured by RWM Italia, a subsidiary of the firm German Rheinmetall AG. In addition, the prolonged period of export licensing issued by Italian authorities and the subsequent arms exports by RWM to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
“The fact that an investigation into a case of manslaughter has not been opened, while thousands of war crimes have been committed against the people in Yemen, is shocking,” says Radhya Al-Mutawakel, chairperson and co-founder from Mwatana. “In the absence of justice, what is the value of legal norms such as international criminal law and international humanitarian law? When national and international arms trade regulations are not enforced, what is the point of having them if violators are not held accountable?”