Struggle for Justice, Mwatana and Ceasefire release a new report

Urgent International Action Needed for Justice and Accountability

Sunday, June 18, 2023
Struggle for Justice, Mwatana and Ceasefire release a new report
June 12, 2023

Sana’a/ – London

After nearly a decade of war, civilian victims in Yemen still await justice and accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law violations and abuses, many of which may amount to international crimes, according to a joint report released today by Mwatana for Human Rights and Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. The Struggle for Justice: The Situation of Impunity and Accountability Avenues for Violations Committed in Yemen assesses the feasibility and potential impacts of pursuing available avenues towards criminal accountability for international crimes committed in Yemen since September 2014. Existing accountability avenues and the possible establishment of new international accountability avenues for Yemen are examined. Given the vast accountability gap at the domestic level, the report finds that international action is urgent and necessary to pave the way for justice for victims and break the long-standing cycle of impunity in Yemen.

Both organizations call on States to immediately prioritize the pursuit of justice in Yemen by urgently establishing an independent international criminally-focused investigative mechanism for Yemen, supporting a UN Security Council referral of the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court, exercising universal or other forms of jurisdiction with regard to Yemen-related cases, and supporting independent civil society organizations involved in documenting violations and international crimes committed in Yemen. Civil society is encouraged to consider establishing an independent investigation and reporting mechanism that joins the forces of leading local and international human rights organizations to advance accountability and justice for Yemen.

“The international community bears tremendous responsibility towards civilians in Yemen who continue to endure unimaginable suffering amidst the ongoing war,” said Radhya Al-Mutawakel, the Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights. “Establishing an independent international investigative mechanism with a strong criminal accountability focus is an urgent and crucial first step towards justice. In the absence of criminal accountability, perpetrators will do nothing more than continue to inflict immense harm on innocent lives while the world stands silently witness.”

Since the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen was disbanded in 2021 under immense pressure from warring parties Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the establishment of an independent international criminally-focused investigative mechanism for Yemen has become even more critical to help bridge the accountability gap in Yemen. No international investigative mechanism that lays the groundwork for accountability is currently in place despite the ongoing war in Yemen. Evidence collection and preservation for criminal accountability purposes is crucial to bringing those responsible for international crimes to justice.

This report calls for comprehensive criminal accountability to ensure that all perpetrators are held to account and victims’ rights to access justice and obtain reparation are realized. One-sided or partial justice does not lay the foundation for sustainable peace in Yemen.

“Criminal accountability doesn’t just apply to the direct perpetrators of war crimes, to those who intentionally bomb civilians and torture detainees, but also to those who arm and support them knowing full well what they are doing,” said Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights.

Justice processes must comply with international law, which recognizes clear legal obligations for States to impose accountability for serious crimes and provide effective remedies to victims. Amnesties for international crimes are impermissible under international law.

Achieving lasting peace will require implementing Yemeni-led processes with the participation of victims and civil society to ensure that justice responses align with the needs of those most impacted.

For further enquiries:

Mwatana for Human Rights:

Olivia Herman [English]

Ali Myas [English, Arabic]

Rasheed Al-Faqih [Arabic]

Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights

Mark Lattimer