UN rights chief condemns Yemen violence, urges investigation

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Dec. 6 urged all sides in Yemen to cease ongoing deadly attacks and live up to previous commitments to investigate the serious human rights violations of its former government. Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), meanwhile condemned all Yemeni factions after claiming that as many as 22 people have been killed in the city of Taiz by shootings and shellings since Dec. 1, including two children. Despite tanks withdrawing from the city under a ceasefire pact to end violence that has consumed the country for nearly 10 months, witnesses and activists have claimed that forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh shot and killed a woman protester in Taiz just this week. Shamdasani added that the ongoing severity of the clashes between armed rebels and the Yemeni army warrant an immediate intervention by the OHCHR. She called on Yemeni government officials to allow a UN investigation as soon as possible. The Yemeni government has yet to issue a response.

From Jurist, Dec. 6. Used with permission.

See our last posts Yemen and the Arab revolutions.

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    An at least somewhat optimistic Reuters piece Dec. 17 says that warring pro- and anti-Saleh armed factions have started to dismantle their barricades and withdraw from Sanaa—although al-Ahmar tribal fighters remain in a stand-off with paramilitary Central Security Forces. Violence continues in the south, where two soldiers were killed in Aden and six wounded near Zinjibar. A photo accompanying the story shows anti-Saleh marchers in Sanaa holding a giant portrait of Che Guevara.

  2. US, rights groups at odds over Yemen amnesty bill
    A Yemeni government proposal to grant former president Ali Abdullah Saleh amnesty was protested by Human Rights Watch group said. “Passing this law would be an affront to thousands of victims of Saleh’s repressive rule, including the relatives of peaceful protesters shot dead last year,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s executive Middle East director. “Yemeni authorities should be locking up those responsible for serious crimes, not rewarding them with a license to kill.” (Reuters, Jan. 11)

    The US meanwhile defended the draft law, which has been drawn up by Yemen’s cabinet. “The immunity provisions were negotiated as part of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] deal to get Saleh to leave power. They have to be codified in law,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing Jan. 9. (Reuters, Jan. 10)