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Ruins of a building in Yemen's capital Sana'a after an air strike Ruins of a building in Yemen's capital Sana'a after an air strike  (AFP or licensors)

UN experts report highlights human rights violations in Yemen

A report by the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen indicates serious human rights violations by all sides amid the nation’s ongoing brutal conflict.

By Vatican News

A UN-backed group of experts investigating the violence in Yemen has reported a range of violations of international and human rights laws by all parties involved after six unremitting years of armed conflicts in the war-ravaged country.

These findings came in the third report issued on Wednesday by a Group of Eminent Experts (GEE), commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights violations by all sides in the war since 2014. This latest report covers the period from July 2019 to June 2020.

Violence escalated in Yemen in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition backing the internationally recognized government based in the south, clashed with the Houthi rebels who still control the capital, Sana’a. The conflict in Yemen has killed over 100,000 people and has displaced over three million others.

“All parties continue to show no regard to international law or the lives, dignity and rights of the people of Yemen” read a statement accompanying the Group of Experts' latest findings.

Long list of human rights violations

The report titled ‘Yemen: A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land’ listed a litany of human rights violations including arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, gender-based violence, the recruitment and the use of children for hostilities, among others.

In addition, some of the airstrikes conducted by the Saudi and United Arab Emirates-backed coalition appear to have been undertaken without regard to the principles of “distinction, proportionality and precaution to protect civilians and civilian objects,” said the statement accompanying the report, explaining that the indiscriminate attacks constitute war crimes under customary international law.

Overall, the Group of Experts said that there are no clean hands in the conflict as the responsibility for these violations are shared by all parties, namely the government of Yemen, the Houthis, the Southern Transitional Council and the members of the coalition.

Call for peace, justice for victims

The experts stressed the urgency for the parties to reach a ceasefire that achieves an inclusive and sustainable peace, as well as an end to the ongoing violations. It also called on the international community to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations, and the realization of the victims’ rights to reparations.

The continued transfer of arms by third States to the parties of the conflict is another point of concern highlighted by the report. Kamel Jendoubi, the Chairperson of the Group of Experts stated that this supply is only “perpetuating the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

“After years of documenting the terrible toll of this war, no one can say ‘we did not know what was happening in Yemen.’ Accountability is key to ensure that justice is served to the people of Yemen and to humanity,” he said

Appeals to the UN

The report urged the UN Security Council to expand the list of the persons subject to sanctions and refer the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court (ICC), pointing out that it will be a powerful message to the conflicting parties that there will be no impunity for human rights violations.

The group also urged the Human Rights Council to ensure the human rights situation in Yemen remains on its agenda by providing enough resources to allow the group to effectively deliver on its mandate of collecting, preserving and analyzing information pertaining to crimes and violations.

“Yemen remains a tortured land, with its people ravaged in ways that should shock the conscience of humanity,” Jendoubi said. “The international community has a responsibility to put an end to this pandemic of impunity, and should not turn a blind eye to the gross violations that have been committed in Yemen.”

11 September 2020, 13:43