Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Yemen human rights experts criticise UN panel on Yemen

Local rights organisations cited negligence in reporting of Houthi violations by the UN panel of Eminent Experts on Human Rights in Yemen

Yemenis walk through a market in Sana'a, Yemen on 12 November 2020. According to reports, the United Nations has warned of a looming famine in war-ridden Yemen amid a huge shortfall in humanitarian aid funding. EPA
Yemenis walk through a market in Sana'a, Yemen on 12 November 2020. According to reports, the United Nations has warned of a looming famine in war-ridden Yemen amid a huge shortfall in humanitarian aid funding. EPA

Yemeni Human Rights organisations and legal experts have accused the UN panel of Eminent Experts on Human Rights in Yemen of negligence in its reporting of rights breaches carried out by Houthi rebels.

During a workshop in Aden on Sunday, participants questioned the mechanisms followed by the panel and said they were surprised at the way its reports documented serious and grave breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

The workshop was organised by the Yemeni Legal Centre and Tamkeen Organisation for Development and Human Rights, in cooperation with the Sah Organisation for Human Rights.

Participants noted "the apparent differentiation in the way the reports of the Group of Experts dealt with many serious and grave violations of International Humanitarian Law, especially with regard to the crimes of minelaying, child recruitment, bombing of houses, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate shelling of civilians and torture, as well as the hierarchy of responsibility at the Houthi armed group," a press release issued by the organisers said.

Speakers during the workshop said offences committed by the Houthis were diluted and overlooked in the panel's reports, suggesting the oversight could be caused by lack of information and possibly the influence of external forces on the panel, which is based in Beirut.

“Based on information we have got through a deep search regarding the list of the names included in the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, we found that some of these names are not qualified enough to do the job while others have never worked on tasks related to data collecting or carrying out investigations about the human rights violations countries ravaged by war,” lawyer Essam Al Shaerei the director of Sah Organisation for Human Rights who participated in the workshop, told The National.

“The reports of the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen weren’t carried out in line with the UN principles and laws and they lack impartiality. Furthermore, the panel reports ignored horrible crimes and human rights violations committed by the Houthi rebels in the provinces of Al Dhalea and Hodeidah. The reports also completely ignored the crimes and the human rights violations reported by some local and international human rights organisations” he added.

Salah bin Laghbar, of the Civil Network for Human Rights, a local human rights organisation, who also participated in the workshop, said the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen was established to provide local human rights organisations in Yemen with the essential expertise to report human rights violations. But instead of helping local groups, the panel carried out the tasks itself remotely, he said.

“The UN panel of Experts on Yemen is working from Lebanon so its reports missed lots of facts and neglected many crimes committed by the Houthis against civilians in many areas all over Yemen. Moreover, the panel relied on local, politicised human rights organisations as sources for information; some of these organisations affiliate with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen and other organisations are supported by Iran,” Mr bin Laghbar told The National.

Participants at the workshop recommended that the mechanism used to select members of the UN Panel of Eminent Experts be reconsidered. Participants also called for replacing members of the UN Panel on Yemen and relocating it from Lebanon.

Updated: November 15, 2020 10:41 PM

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