On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

All Parties to the Conflict Must Reveal the Fates of Hundreds Who Have Been Forcibly Disappeared Amidst the Ongoing Conflict and All Previous Conflict Cycles

Wednesday, August 30, 2023
On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Mwatna for Human Rights stated in a press release issued today, Wednesday, on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, that (1547) incidents of enforced disappearances were documented during the period between August 2014 and July 2023. These incidents involve all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen, including the internationally recognized government forces, Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, the formations and agencies affiliated with the Islah Party in Taiz and Marib, armed elite formations and security belts affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council, and Saudi/UAE-led coalition. Mwatana demanded that all parties to the conflict reveal the fate and release of all forcibly disappeared individuals, hold those responsible for the crimes of enforced disappearance accountable, provide reparations to the victims, and take all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of enforced disappearance crimes under all circumstances.

In addition to the hundreds of victims of the ongoing conflict, there are hundreds of forcibly disappeared victims and their families resulting from the cycles of political conflict throughout the second half of the 20th century and the first and second decades of the 21st century. The demands of the forcibly disappeared families have persisted over the past decades and until today. Many of them continue to hope to reunite with their loved ones despite the long period of enforced disappearance. Nonetheless, they persist in their long struggle to search tirelessly for any information that could help reveal the fate of their forcibly disappeared relatives or any leads that might help them find out what happened to them. They seek relief from the harrowing suffering they endure as victims of that crime. Responsibility for the ongoing enforced disappearance crimes has been inherited across successive generations of those involved in committing, covering up, and colluding in these crimes from various parties. The responsible parties have not halted their actions, using enforced disappearance as a tool of political conflict, and have even missed every opportunity to address the heavy issue of enforced disappearance through fair mechanisms.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel, the Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, emphasized, "Yemen bears the accumulated legacy of suffering for thousands of enforced disappearance victims, including the families of forcibly disappeared individuals and their loved ones." Al-Mutawakel added, "All parties involved in hundreds of incidents of enforced disappearance, past and present, have turned their backs on the victims of enforced disappearance and their families, betting on the passage of time to throw the victims, witnesses, facts, demands, and lists of suspects and those involved into oblivion. With the failure of this certain bet and the persistence of the voices of the families of the forcibly disappeared, the time has come to initiate the just treatment of this issue by all past and present responsible parties."

Mwatana stressed the gravity of enforced disappearance crimes as crimes against humanity and one of the most serious crimes, according to the Rome Statute, which was developed for the International Criminal Court. The definition of its victims does not solely encompass those forcibly disappeared, but also includes their families and friends, according to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. These actions violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.

Mwatana for Human Rights reiterated its call for the international community to establish an independent international mechanism with criminal jurisdiction to investigate human rights violations in Yemen committed by parties to the conflict. This includes cases of enforced disappearance. It urged those engaged in peace efforts, especially international stakeholders and the United Nations envoy to Yemen, to prioritize as an urgent matter the disclosure of the fate of the forcibly disappeared and their release, as part of all efforts towards comprehensive and sustainable peace.