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NGOs call for independent inquiry into Yemen rights violations

[JURIST] In an open letter[text] addressed to representatives of the Member and Observer States [materials] of the United Nations Humans Rights Council [official website], 56 national, regional and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) called for an “independent, international inquiry” into violations of human rights in Yemen [OHCHR profile]. The letter refers to reports [materials] from September 2015 and September 2016, which address the increasing violence between Saudi Arabia-backed supporters of exiled President Hadi, and the Houthi governement led by President Saleh, which took control of the capital of Sana’a in late 2014. The letter address violence from both sides of the conflict, and calls for the creation of an independent inquiry into the matter, claiming “[t]he victims of abuses in Yemen cannot afford to wait longer for credible investigations into ongoing grave violations and abuses to be undertaken.”

Parties to the conflict are recruiting and deploying child soldiers. Both sides have used widely banned weapons that can endanger civilians long after a conflict ends. The Saudi-led coalition has used at least seven types of cluster munitions, and the Houthi-Saleh side has laid antipersonnel landmines in a number of Yemeni governorates.

The state of human rights in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating since October, when UN rights expert Heiner Bielefeldt condemned [JURIST report] Yemen for detaining individuals belonging to the religious community. In June the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] accused [JURIST report] the United Arab Emirates [HRW profile] of backing “Yemeni forces that have arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and abused dozens of people during security operations.” In May, UN expert on freedom of religion Ahmed Shaheed stated [JURIST report] that Houthi de facto authorities in Yemen must end harassment against the Bahá’í [official website] community in the Yemen capital, Sana’a. In April the Public Prosecutor summoned 30 Bahá’í community members to appear in court and the Houthi de facto authorities ordered the arrest of 25 members. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein reported that more than 13,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in the last two years and more than 80 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance, in his March statement calling for an immediate ceasefire [JURIST report] in the Yemen war and continued international support in ending the conflict.

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