UN appoints group of experts to investigate human rights violations in Yemen

UN-led inquiry into human rights abuses in the conflict

For some time now, civil society organisations have been calling for an independent investigative inquiry into the conflict in Yemen. Finally, on 29th September 2017 the UN Human Rights Council heeded these calls and passed a resolution mandating a group of international and regional experts to investigate abuses by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. The mandate of the Group of Experts is to monitor and report on human rights in Yemen; undertake a “comprehensive examination” of human-rights violations; “establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations” of human-rights and other international law; and “where possible, to identify those responsible”.

Since the adoption of the resolution, civil society has emphasised that strong impartial experts must be chosen to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations on all sides are identified and that the Group of Experts must listen to Yemeni civil society and Yemeni human rights organisations. 

Despite this positive development, a Saudi blockade on Yemen, introduced on 5th November 2017, has had devastating consequences. The Saudi-led coalition shut air, land and sea routes into Yemen, a move which was strongly condemned by the UN and humanitarian and human rights organisations.

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Yemeni journalist and writer Mohammad Yahya al-Jubaihi was reportedly released on 24th September 2017. His death sentence issued by the court in Sana'a on 12th April 2017 was allegedly abolished. Al-Jubaihi was arrested in 2016 by Houthi security agents and found guilty of spying for a foreign country. 

On 10th October 2017, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, president of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, was named Defender of Human Rights and Freedom of Speech for October 2017 by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Maharat Foundation, and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, in cooperation with IFEX. Because of her work documenting human rights violations in Yemen, Al-Mutawakel has faced death threats, detention and physical abuse.