Nobel peace laureate urges ICC investigation into former Yemen regime

Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman on Nov. 28 uged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct an investigation into the violent crackdown on dissent and alleged human rights violations by the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Sakeh. Although Karman presented ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo with a file on crimes she believes were committed by Saleh’s regime, the Nobel laureate was also quick to acknowledge that her plea will likely fail due to the fact that Yemen has not signed the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and is therefore not a member of the ICC. Consequently, the only way the prosecutor can begin such an investigation is if the UN Security Council instructs him to do so. While the Security Council has yet to make such an order, it has issued a statement on Yemen reiterating that “all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable.” Saleh stepped down as president last week in a deal that would grant immunity to the country’s former leader.

Karman, a Yemeni journalist and activist, won her Nobel Peace Prize for aiding the protest movement in Yemen that forced Saleh from the presidency. While Karman will have to wait for further action by the UN, the Security Council in September called on Yemen to comply with international law and end ongoing violence against protesters that resulted in the deaths of at least 49 people shortly following Saleh’s return as president after a three-month absence. Also in September, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged an intervention in Yemen after verifying that the Yemeni government was indeed firing on peaceful protesters. Saleh clung to the presidency throughout nearly 10 months of protests and violence despite agreeing to step down in April, shortly following his attempt to remove presidential term limits and expand his political authority.

From Jurist, Nov. 30. Used with permission.

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