A nation abandoned: a call to humanity to end Yemen’s suffering
GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA (8 September 2021) – As the conflict in Yemen moves into its seventh year, the conflicting parties continue to engage in serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law causing intolerable suffering to civilians.
The Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts has released its fourth report today on the situation of human rights in Yemen, covering the period from July 2020 to June 2021.Our choice of title “A nation abandoned: A call to humanity to end Yemen’s suffering” reflects the Group of experts’ concern the continuation of hostilities and of the same egregious patterns of violations without any significant progress in holding alleged perpetrators to account, essentially demonstrates a fundamental lack of political will for peace. Kamel Jendoubi said: “In the midst of the current intolerable situation, only genuine political will on the part of the parties to the conflict and their backers, but also on the part of the international community, can end Yemen’s suffering.”
The official version of the report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in its 48th session, on 14 September 2021.1 The report presents the Group’s investigations into a number of incidents that occurred during the reporting period, and also undertook a select retrospective analysis of the Group’s previous findings.
The report includes the Group’s findings and patterns of violations established during both the current reporting period and over the last four years on airstrikes and shelling, failing to abide by international humanitarian law principles, humanitarian restrictions as well as obstacles to access to food and healthcare, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, denial of fair trial rights, violations of fundamental freedoms, persecution and violations against journalists, human rights defenders, minorities, migrants, internally displaced persons and violations of children’s rights.
The Group of Eminent Experts stressed that the responsibility for violations rests with all parties to the conflict and concluded that particular violations have been committed by the Government of Yemen, the de facto authorities, the Southern Transitional Council, as well as members of the Coalition. As the Group has previously reported, there are no clean hands in this conflict. Many of the violations that the Group has identified may amount to international crimes.
The hostilities in Yemen, which have not reduced in intensity during the period under review, more particularly on the Ma’rib front, are never ending, as are the harms inflicted to civilians. Coalition airstrikes continue to take a heavy toll on the civilian population and the Group of Eminent Experts reiterated its concerns that the coalition is failing to abide by the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack to protect civilians and civilian objects. The Group also regretted that the coalition appears not to take the Group’s findings and recommendations on the conduct of its military operations seriously. It also concluded that indiscriminate shelling attacks have been carried out since the beginning of the conflict by the parties, particularly by the Houthis but also by the Government of Yemen and the Coalition. These shelling incidents which have and are inflicting harm on civilians and civilian objects, appear to constitute indiscriminate attacks and reflect a failure to abide by the principles of distinction and proportionality and to take all feasible precautions in attack.
“The climate of fear, lawlessness and impunity for all those living in Yemen has worsened further despite political agreements and high-level discussions between key actors, including under the auspices of the former Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Mr. Martin Griffiths,” said Kamel Jendoubi, the Chairperson of the Group of Eminent Experts.
The Group of Eminent Experts reiterated the urgency for the parties to the conflict to agree to a full cessation of hostilities and achieve a sustainable and inclusive peace, urging them to immediately take steps to cease the ongoing violations and prevent new ones. The Group also stressed that all measures should be taken, by the parties as well as by the international community, to ensure accountability for perpetrators of the violations committed in Yemen, and the realization of victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparation.
Kamel Jendoubi said: “For us, it is now clear that no peace, let alone a sustainable and inclusive one, can be achieved in the absence of political will and a strong commitment for accountability.”
In this report, the Group of Eminent Experts highlighted steps that can be taken now to enhance Yemen’s preparedness for peace, including making the peace process more inclusive, encouraging an explicit principled commitment to accountability in peace talks; creating and preserving space for discussions on transitional justice, prioritising consultations with victims; and instituting targeted initiatives to strengthen the capacity of Yemeni civil society.
The Group of Eminent Experts expresses concern about the failure of third States to stop transfers of arms or the provision of other military support to the parties of the conflict. Chairperson Kamel Jendoubi stated: “Given the horrific toll the war continues to take on the people of Yemen, it does not stand to reason that third States continue to supply the parties to the conflict with the tools of war. The flow of arms must stop now.”
The report urged the Human Rights Council to ensure that the situation of human rights in Yemen remains on its agenda by renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts beyond one year; and by ensuring that the necessary human and financial resources are provided to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively. The Group of Eminent Experts reiterated that the Security Council should integrate the human rights dimensions of the conflict in Yemen more fully into its agenda; and ensure that there is no impunity for the most serious crimes by, inter alia, referring the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court, and expanding the list of persons subject to Security Council sanctions.
About the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (Group of Experts)
In its resolution 36/31 (2017), the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts on Yemen to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the country. The Group of Eminent Experts (Group of Experts) was mandated to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict since September 2014, including the possible gender dimensions of such violations. The mandate of the Group of Experts also includes its duty to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses and, where possible, to identify those responsible.
The Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the Group of Experts in its resolutions 39/16 (2018), 42/2 (2019) and 45/15 (2020).
The current members of the Group of Experts are:
- Mr. Kamel Jendoubi (Tunisia) - Chairperson
- Ms. Melissa Parke (Australia)
- Mr. Ardi Imseis (Canada)
Please note that the versions accompanying this media advisory are advance unedited versions. Official documents of the Human Rights Council will be posted at a later stage.
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1. The Group of Experts will also shortly release a Conference Room Paper, which evaluates the actions of parties to the conflict in the accountability sphere and proposes further action as necessary