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UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen releases their third report Yemen: A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land


GENEVA / BEIRUT (9 September 2020) – After six unremitting years of armed conflict, all parties continue to show no regard for international law or the lives, dignity, and rights of people in Yemen, according to the third report of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, which has been released today.

The Group of Experts has released its third report, titled ‘Yemen: A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land’ on the situation of human rights in Yemen, covering the period from July 2019 to June 2020, the official version of which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in its 45th session, on 29 September 2020. Besides this report, the Group of Experts will also release a Conference Room Paper, which is a longer and more detailed document, detailing its investigations and findings. The report investigated a number of incidents during the period covered, and also took a longer temporal scope, going back to as early as the beginning of the conflict in 2014, when deemed necessary for investigations and establishing facts for some categories of the investigated violations.

In its report, the Group of Experts has established that all parties to the conflict have continued to commit a range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, noting a consistent pattern of harm to civilians that not only occurs in the context of hostilities, but also away from the front lines.

The Group of Experts stressed that there are no clean hands in this conflict. The responsibility for violations rests with all parties to the conflict. In its findings, the report concluded that 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 United Arab Emirates.

The verified human rights violations include arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the recruitment and use in hostilities of children, the denial of fair trial rights, violations of fundamental freedoms, and economic, social and cultural rights.

The Group of Experts has concluded that some of the airstrikes conducted by the Coalition appear to have been undertaken without proper regard to principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution to protect civilians and civilian objects. It also concluded that indiscriminate attacks have been carried out by both the Coalition and the Houthis, inflicting harm on civilians and civilian objects. It notes that disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks constitute war crimes under customary international law. The Group of Experts also investigated the effects of landmines that were unlawfully planted by the Houthis. 

Moreover, the Group of Experts concluded that parties were responsible for other violations of international humanitarian law, in particular the murder of civilians, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, outrages upon personal dignity, denial of fair trial, and enlisting children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities, that may amount to war crimes.

“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 Group of Experts reiterated the urgency for the parties to reach a comprehensive ceasefire and achieve a sustainable and inclusive peace, urging the parties 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 reparations.

Kamel 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. 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.”

The Group of Experts expressed concern about the continued transfer of arms by third States to the parties of the conflict. Chairperson Kamel Jendoubi stated that “the continued supply of weapons to parties to the conflict is only perpetuating the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

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; and ensuring that the resources provided to the Group allow for the effective delivery of its mandate including collecting, preserving and analysing information related to violations and crimes. The Group of Experts further suggested that the Security Council integrate the human rights dimensions of the conflict in Yemen more fully into its agenda; and ensure 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.

Kemal 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.”

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), and 42/2 (2019).
The current members of the Group of Experts are:

  • Mr.Kamel Jendoubi (Tunisia) - Chairperson
  • Ms. Melissa Parke (Australia)
  • Mr. Ardi Imseis (Canada)

To read the text of the report in English, click here
To read the executive summary of the report in Arabic, click here

Please note that the versions posted are advance unedited versions. Official documents of the Human Rights Council will be posted at a later stage.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ms. Hanan Elbadawi,
Communications Advisor for the Group of Experts,
Email: helbadawi@ohchr.org
Mobile: 00962791027333.
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