Demands for Holding Perpetrators of War Crimes in Yemen Accountable

Mwatana and Ceasefire release a new report on accountability in Yemen

Monday, June 12, 2023
Demands for Holding Perpetrators of War Crimes in Yemen Accountable


Mwatana for Human Rights and Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights jointly released a new report titled "The Struggle for Justice: The Situation of Impunity and Accountability Avenues for Violations Committed in Yemen under International Law." The report was released during an online event attended by representatives from both organizations, along with journalists and interested audience.

During the event, Abdul Rashid Al-Faqih, Vice Chairperson of Mwatana, emphasized the significance of the report in exposing human rights violators and individuals responsible for war crimes in Yemen. Al-Faqih stated, "The conflicting parties in Yemen bear a shameful human rights record, characterized by their involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have been responsible for the killing and assault of civilians, enforced disappearances, torture, recruitment of children, destruction of infrastructure, occupation of schools and hospitals, and the curtailment of rights and freedoms."

He highlighted that human rights violations in Yemen have gone unpunished for decades, resulting in the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these crimes and violations.

Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, condemned the blatant disregard for rights and freedoms exhibited by the local or regional parties involved in the Yemeni conflict. He emphasized that "The Struggle for Justice" comprehensively addresses crucial aspects that will be instrumental in holding the perpetrators of war crimes in Yemen accountable and establishing a roadmap for advancing criminal accountability." Mark held the parties to the conflict in Yemen responsible for the crimes and violations inflicted upon Yemenis, while expressing disappointment in the United Nations Security Council's silence and lack of support for referring these crimes to the International Criminal Court.

Olivia Herman, a legal expert and human rights research editor at Mwatana, emphasized that "The Struggle for Justice" advocates for the establishment of an independent international investigation mechanism for Yemen, akin to those established for Myanmar and Syria. The report's contents can be viewed as evidence upon which the international legal community can rely when seeking accountability for the perpetrators of crimes and violations against Yemeni civilians.

Herman emphasized that the courts in Yemen are unable to deliver comprehensive justice due to their susceptibility to influence from the political parties involved in the armed conflict.

Participants in the online event held to unveil the report urged for immediate and decisive actions to ensure the accountability of those responsible for crimes and violations against Yemeni civilians during the ongoing war. They also appealed to the conflicting parties involved in committing war crimes to take steps to provide reparations to the victims and their families, establish the principles of transitional justice, and draw lessons from various experiences, such as Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Colombia, and other contexts that bear resemblance to the Yemeni case, in order to shape Yemeni perspectives.

The report, titled "The Struggle for Justice," primarily focuses on the issue of criminal accountability, specifically addressing legal procedures aimed at establishing individual criminal responsibility for perpetrators involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and other grave crimes committed in Yemen since 2014.

According to the report, potential perpetrators encompass political and military officials from states, commanders, and members of non-state armed groups or state-supported/recruited forces. This also includes state officials, CEOs of weapon companies whose weapons have been utilized in the Yemeni war, and, in some jurisdictions, legal entities involved in arms transfers to the conflicting parties.

The report aims to assess the viability and potential impacts of pursuing existing avenues for criminal accountability, considering the present realities of the ongoing war. Additionally, it explores the possibility of establishing new, independent international mechanisms focused on criminal accountability.