Geneva (9 September 2020) – There are «no clean hands in the conflict in Yemen», according to the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council. After six years of armed conflict the parties to the conflict continue to show no regard for international law or the lives, dignity, and rights of people in Yemen, while third States have helped to perpetuate the conflict by continuing to supply the parties with weapons. In its third report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, released on 9 September, the group is highlighting incidents and patterns of conduct between September 2014 and June 2020.
The Group of Expert stressed that the responsibility for violations rests with all parties to the conflict. Violations have been committed by the Government of Yemen, the Houthis, the Southern Transitional Council, as well as members of the Coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Group of Experts expressed also concern about the continued transfer of arms by third States to the parties of the conflict. Notwithstanding the strong recommendations by the Group of Experts in its previous reports, third States, including, Canada, France, Iran, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America, continued their support of the parties to the conflict, including through arms transfers, thereby helping to perpetuate the conflict an prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people, the Group of Experts noted.
«Yemen remains a tortured land, with its people ravaged in ways that should shock the conscience of humanity» said Kamel Jendoubi, the Chairperson of the Group of Experts. The verified human rights violations include arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, sexual violence, torture and also the recruitment and use in hostilities of children, the denial of fair trial rights, violation of fundamental freedoms and economic, social and cultural rights.
According to the Experts some of the airstrikes conducted by the Coalition appear to have been taken without proper regard to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution to protect civilinas and civilian objects. The group also concluded that indiscriminate attacks have been carried out by both the Coalition and the Houthis, inflicting harm on civilians. Disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks constitute war crimes, the group noted. It also investigated the effects of landmines that were unlawfully planted by the Houthis.
The parties of the conflict are also responsible for other violations of international humanitarian law, the group of Experts concluded, in particular the murder of civilians, torture, sexual violence, outrages upon personal dignity, denial of fair trial, and enlisting children under the age of 15 or using them to participate in hostilities, that may amount to war crimes.
«Pandemic of impunity»
The Group of Experts reiterated the urgency for the parties to reach a comprehensive ceasefire and achieve a sustainable and inclusive peace. All measures should be taken by the parties as well by the international community to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of the violations, the Group stressed.
«The international community has the responsibility to put an end to this pandemic of impunity », Jendoubi said. The Group of Experts suggested that the Security Council ensure there is no impunity for the most serious crimes by referring the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court, and expanding the list of persons subject to Security Council sanctions.
Kamel Jendoubi stated, «in referring the Situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court and in expanding the persons subject to sanctions the UN Security Council would send a powerful message to the conflicting parties that there will be no impunity for serious violations of human rights.»