Rights group urges ICC to probe UAE 'war crimes' in Yemen

Rights group urges ICC to probe UAE 'war crimes' in Yemen
Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:32:02

A rights organisation has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen by the United Arab Emirates.

(AFP) -- The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK accuses the UAE government, part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Huothis in Yemen, of "indiscriminate attacks against civilians", lawyer Joseph Breham said.

The London-based AOHR further charges that the UAE has used banned cluster bombs and hired mercenaries to carry out torture and executions.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will have to decide whether or not to open a preliminary probe.

Yemen and the UAE are not signatories to the Rome Statute which underpins the court in The Hague, so Bensouda would only have jurisdiction if nationals from another country were involved.

"Our complaint targets acts perpetrated on Yemeni territory by the United Arab Emirates which does not recognise the ICC," said Paris-based Breham.

But he added: "The perpetrators of these crimes are mercenaries employed by the Emirates and coming from Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, South Africa or Australia -- countries that recognise the ICC."

It would therefore be possible for the court to launch an investigation, Breham said, accusing Emirati forces of "air strikes targeting civilian homes, hospitals and schools".

Since the court opened in 2002, the prosecutor's office has received about 10,000 requests from individuals, groups or countries to investigate alleged crimes.

This year alone, activists from Mexico, Venezuela, the Philippines and the Palestinian territories have all sought to secure or broaden ICC probes.

- Torture claims -

The AOHR accuses Emirati forces of using mercenaries to torture prisoners in Yemeni government-held jails and carrying out executions.

In June, Human Rights Watch accused the UAE of running at least two "informal detention facilities" in Yemen and said it had reportedly transferred detainees to a base in Eritrea.

The UAE rejected the allegations as "totally unfounded", saying its forces "respect international conventions on armed conflicts".

The UAE has been supporting Riyadh-backed Yemeni government forces since March 2015 in their conflict against Houthis.

The UN's Human Rights Council agreed in September to send war crimes investigators to Yemen, overcoming resistance from Saudi Arabia, which fought to head off an independent international probe.

(Photo: AFP)

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