Three NGOs on Thursday filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against French arms producers Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France for alleged war crimes complicity in Yemen. They accuse the companies of having sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that were then used against civilians in Yemen.
The compliant, filed by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa International, comes amid a nationwide truce between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group went into effect on 2 April.
Rights groups in France have repeatedly attempted to show that Paris's tacit support for the coalition has prolonged and worsened the conflict, which began in 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Houthis after they ousted the government from Yemen's capital, Sanaa.
By targeting Dassault, Thales and MBDA France, the NGOs hope it will keep the subject in the public domain at a time when the United States and its Western allies are seeking to improve ties with Saudi Arabia.
Dassault and MBDA France did not immediately respond to calls or an emailed request for comment. Thales requested questions by email and did not immediately respond.
"The coalition's airstrikes have caused terrible destruction in Yemen. Weapons produced and exported by European countries, and in particular France, have enabled these crimes," said Abdulrasheed al-Faqih, executive director of Yemeni organisation Mwatana for Human Rights.
"Seven years into this war, the countless Yemeni victims deserve credible investigations into all perpetrators of crimes, including those potentially complicit," he said.
French prosecutors are already studying similar complaints filed against Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the French customs authority.
The truce has offered a glimmer of hope in a country where the war and ensuing economic collapse have left millions facing starvation, and could also provide Riyadh with an exit from a costly conflict that is a point of tension with Washington.