No amnesty for gross human rights violations in Yemen, top UN official says
The United Nations human rights chief today warned that there must be no amnesty for gross rights violations in Yemen, stressing that the victims of the worst abuses during the country’s protracted crisis must have recourse to justice.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement calling on Yemeni decision-makers to respect the prohibition under international law against amnesties for the worst violations.
An amnesty law may soon be presented to Yemen’s Parliament in the wake of the resolution of the conflict that killed an unknown number of people as pro- and anti-Government forces clashed last year as part of the Arab Spring uprising that gripped the wider Middle East and North Africa.
Noting she has been closely following the debate about a possible amnesty in Yemen, Ms. Pillay said that both international law and UN policy are clear on the issue.
“Amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and gross violations of human rights,” she said.
“Based on information we have gathered, there is reason to believe that some of these crimes were committed in Yemen during the period for which an amnesty is under consideration. Such an amnesty would be in violation of Yemen’s international human rights obligations.”
The High Commissioner underlined the importance of a victim-centred approach to justice in countries such as Yemen that are emerging from violent conflict or crisis.
“Victims have the right to justice, to the truth, to remedy and reparation – these are rights that are well-established internationally. Any adopted legislation would also need to respect the principle of equality before the law – meaning that there should be no discrimination between individuals who are pro-Government or in opposition and no distinction based on family connections. Every individual who commits a crime is accountable and should not be allowed to escape justice.”