On December 4, 2017, Houthi forces summarily executed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a. This incident violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a party.
In the month since the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh, multiple sources have reported that Houthi forces have detained and disappeared hundreds of people in San’a, and have carried out mass executions. Thus far it has been impossible to confirm the extent of these violations.
On December 5, 2017, Houthi rebels held dozens of journalists at a television station in San'a after firing rocket-propelled grenades at the headquarters of the Yemen Al Youm TV channel. This incident violates Customary IHL Rule 96 on taking hostages.
Riyadh Airport, Saudi Arabia
Najran, Saudi Arabia
The Houthis have been accused of severe, on-going torture within their Habra prison. This incident violates Customary IHL Chapter 37 and Chapter 90.
YEMENI GOVERNMENT AND SAUDI-LED COALITION
Ports on the Red Sea
The Saudi-led coalition maintains a de facto blockade of Yemen’s ports on the Red Sea, which has blocked essential aid from entering the country. The denial of humanitarian relief to civilians in need violates customary IHL Rule 55.
WASHINGTON, DC--On September 12, fourteen members of Congress sent an official letter to Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urging her to call “for an independent, international investigation into the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen,” after more than two years of abuses by all sides in Yemen’s civil war that have continued with impunity. The Yemen Peace Project applauds this effort, which echoes a letter the YPP and 66 other NGOs previously delivered to members of the UN Human Rights Council.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The report enumerates the violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen since September 2014, when the Houthi-Saleh coup against the legitimate government began. Civilians face indiscriminate and targeted military attacks, arbitrary and illegal arrest and detention, restricted access to humanitarian aid, and a devastating blockade that smothers the economy. Furthermore, violators throughout Yemen are committing such offenses with total impunity.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR) has the legal authority and supporting precedents to establish an independent international commission of investigation (“CoI”) in respect of the conflict in Yemen. Its failure to do so is completely inconsistent with well-established UN practice.
The 1991 UN General Assembly (UNGA) “Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security” makes clear that “[f]act-finding should be comprehensive, objective, impartial and timely.” The Declaration also recommends “using the United Nations fact-finding capabilities at an early stage in order to contribute to the prevention of disputes and situations.”
The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) calls on Members of Congress to support a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment that prohibits unconditionally refueling the Saudi-led coalition’s warplanes in northern and western Yemen. The coalition uses these planes to conduct airstrikes targeting civilians and critical infrastructure in Yemen, violating international humanitarian law (IHL) and perpetuating a conflict with no possible military solution. The Saudi-led coalition’s attacks have killed thousands of civilians and left millions in need of humanitarian aid, food assistance, and medical help. The United States cannot continue to aid and abet the coalition’s violations of IHL by refuel coalition warplanes unconditionally. Through this amendment, Congress can provide oversight of and introduce transparency into the process of refueling coalition missions.
We're pleased to publish this guest post by Dr. Abdulkader Alguneid, a physician and activist from Ta'iz. Dr. Abdulkader was kidnapped from his home by Houthi fighters in August 2015; he was released after 300 days of illegal imprisonment and torture in May 2016.
It was mid-day, and I was in a tight, dim cell with two companions.
The clanging sound of the iron door being unlocked came suddenly and loudly, startling and unnerving us. These doors never opened, day after day and month after month, except for the most unusual, or for taking an inmate out for interrogation or something unpleasant.
Mwatana Organization for Human Rights released a report this month entitled “Concealed Killer,” focusing on the use of landmines by Ansar Allah--also known as the Houthi movement--and pro-Saleh forces in six Yemeni governorates. To date, Mwatana has documented 33 incidents of exploded landmines planted by Ansar Allah which have killed 57 civilians, 24 of whom were children and 4 of whom were women. The report also documents 47 civilians injured by the landmines, including 21 children and 6 women.
The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) has learned that the White House is expected to sign off on the Pentagon’s request for the United States to support the Saudi- and Emirati-led offensive to take control of the seaport and city of al-Hudaydah, which is currently controlled by the Houthi-Saleh alliance. It is our understanding that a major attack on al-Hudaydah is therefore imminent. In addition to providing support for the coalition in the forms of “surveillance, intelligence, refueling and operational planning,” the US administration is also reportedly considering direct US military engagement against the Houthis as part of this offensive. The YPP joins a broad coalition of NGOs, US lawmakers, and representatives of international organizations in calling on President Trump to withhold American support for any offensive against al-Hudaydah.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
President Trump met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman today for talks that are likely to focus partially on limiting Iranian influence in the region, says the Guardian.
The UN envoy to Yemen stated that the Saud-led coalition backing President Hadi and the Houthi-Saleh alliance both refuse to discuss peace efforts in the face of the escalating violence in the country.
Amnesty International is calling on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately stop using cluster munitions after reports surfaced that forces dropped the illegal explosives on San‘a on January 6, 2016. The attacks killed a 16-year-old boy, wounded at least six other civilians, and damaged homes and other property.
Amnesty International spoke to the brother of the 16-year-old boy who was killed in the attack: “At around 5am, he was on his way to the mosque opposite our house in al-Daqeeq district to perform the dawn prayers. We then heard the first explosion. A minute later we heard a series of consecutive explosions in the neighbourhood when the little bombs landed, one of which landed on the roof of our neighbour’s house… My mother found Essa at the mosque door in a pool of his own blood.”
Markings on the bombs’ remnants indicate that they were CBU-58 cluster munitions manufactured in the USA in 1978. The US is known to have transferred 1,000 CBU-58 bombs to Saudi Arabia sometime between 1970 and 1995.
The coalition denies using cluster munitions in San‘a, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, such as the recovery of the bombs’ cylinders and a number of descriptions of the explosions by residents that are consistent with air-dropped cluster munition attacks.
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions banned the use, production, sale, and transfer of cluster bombs. Although the US, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are not parties to the convention, any use of “inherently indiscriminate weapons [such as cluster munitions], which invariably pose a threat to civilians” is prohibited under the rules of customary international humanitarian law.
A new report by Human Rights Watch details the Houthi forces' practice of arbitrarily detaining and disappearing individuals with ties--real or imagined--to the Islah Party or other opposition groups. The report provides details of more than 20 cases of arbitrary detention and forced disappearance, out of 35 cases confirmed by HRW investigators. The people illegally detained by the Houthis include political activists, Islah party members, journalists, and lawyers. According to one Yemeni attorney interviewed by HRW, more than 800 people are currently being held by Houthi authorities in and around San‘a:
He said that based on information he has gathered from sources knowledgeable about detentions, the Houthis were holding at least 250 at al-Thawra pretrial detention facility, 180 at Habra pretrial detention facility, 167 at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), 165 opposition figures at Sanaa Central Prison, 73 at the Political Security Organization’s headquarters, 20 at al-Judairi police station, 10 at one of the homes of the former First Armored Division commander, Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and an unknown number at Zain al-Abdeen mosque in Hiziyaz.
Based on interviews with witnesses and family members, the report claims that Houthi authorities are depriving many detainees of food and water, preventing them from contacting anyone on the outside, and holding them in otherwise illegal and abusive conditions. One journalism student, for example, who has been imprisoned for more than four months, was "first held for three days without food or being allowed to use the bathroom." A professor at San‘a University's medical school "was being held in a three-by-three meter cell with 14 other men and was only allowed to use the bathroom once a day."
Human Rights Watch has investigated reports of the use of cluster munitions in Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen's capital, San‘a. As of Thursday, HRW had found indisputable evidence of the weapons in two neighborhoods, according to a report published today. The cluster munitions used were manufactured in the USA, and were likely sold to Saudi Arabia or another participating air force by the US, though Saudi Arabia has been known to buy US munitions from third countries as well. Although neither the US nor KSA has signed the international ban on cluster munitions, the use of such weapons--which are, by their nature, indiscriminate--in populated areas is a crime under international humanitarian law. From the HRW report:
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Residents of two Sanaa neighborhoods described aerial attacks consistent with cluster bomb use. A resident of al-Zira`a Street told Human Rights Watch that his family was awakened at 5:30 a.m. on January 6 by dozens of small explosions. He said that he had been at work, but that his wife told him that when the family fled they saw many homes and a local kindergarten with newly pockmarked walls and broken windows.
A resident of Hayal Sayeed, another residential neighborhood, described hearing small explosions at around 6 a.m. He went out on the street, he said, and saw more than 20 vehicles covered in pockmarks, including his own, as well as dozens of pockmarks in the road. He said that at least three houses in the area had pockmarked walls and broken windows. He found a fragment in his car, he said.