Building destroyed by bomb in Yemen

Torture, rape, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, child recruitment…, a UN expert group details war crimes committed during the conflict and identifies those who may be responsible.

“No one’s hands are clean in this conflict. “United Nations (UN) experts on Yemen reported in a report published on Tuesday, September 3, on the “multitude of war crimes” allegedly committed by the various parties since the beginning of the conflict.

This group of experts, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2017, identified, to the extent possible, the “persons likely to be responsible for international crimes and transmitted these names”, which remain confidential, to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. Many of the violations “can lead to the conviction of persons for war crimes if they are brought before an independent and competent tribunal,” they explained in a statement.

Despite the lack of cooperation shown by the coalition and the Yemeni government, the expert group was able to conduct more than 600 interviews with victims and witnesses. Attacks and air strikes that indiscriminately target civilian populations, use of famine as a weapon of war, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, recruitment of children under 15 years of age… This second report by UN experts (after the 2018 report) details the war crimes that were allegedly committed during the conflict in Yemen.

Since 2014, this war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, many of them civilians, according to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It has plunged the country – the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula – into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.

“Questionable” weapons transfers

A Saudi Arabian-led coalition has been operating in Yemen since 2015 to support pro-Government forces against the Houthist rebels, who have seized large areas of the country’s west and north, including the capital, Sana’a. “Five years after the beginning of the conflict, violations against Yemeni civilians continue unabated, with total disregard for the fate of the population and a lack of international action to hold the parties to the conflict accountable,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chair of the group of experts.

UN experts also call on the international community to refrain from providing weapons that could be used in the conflict, warning that the “legality of arms transfers by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other states remains questionable”. “States may be held responsible for the aid or assistance they provide for the commission of violations of international law if the conditions for complicity are met,” the report insists.

The report will be presented on 10 September to the Human Rights Council at its next session (9-27 September). The group of experts would like the Council to strengthen its mandate to fight impunity by asking it to gather evidence on alleged violations in the face of the current “general lack of accountability”.