More than 40 Civil Society Organisations from across the country, came together ahead of the 36th Session for Human Rights Council to call for a Joint International Independent Commission for Investigation of Human Rights violations and abuses.
You can download the letter in pdf format here: Int Commission HR Yemen Final2
25th August 2017
His Excellency/ the President of the Human Rights Council,
His Excellency/ the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
Subject: Letter from the Civil Society Actors in Yemen to call for establishing an International Independent and Joint Commission for Investigating Human Rights Violations and Abuses in Yemen.
More than two years have passed of this devastating war in Yemen leading to the killing and injuring more than forty thousand people. The violence escalated massively against civilians and human rights violations and abuses increased drastically in the country. Civilians are being targeted by indiscriminate shelling, direct sniping, many fall victims from anti-personnel mines, and assassinations continue. Children are systematically recruited as fighters and pushed to the front lines. Civilians are targeted by airstrikes in their homes, markets, schools, hospitals, during weddings and funerals. Weapons that are banned such as cluster bombs have been used. This war has led to the displacement of more than 3 million people and there is forced displacement of entire villages.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is the worst in the world. People are deprived from basic lifesaving necessities such as clean water, electricity, food, medicine, and shelter. The infrastructure and health system have collapsed leading to catastrophic spread of diseases and outbreaks such as cholera. There are seven million at risk of famine. More than eight million have lost their source of income. Civil servants salaries have been interrupted or discontinued. Social welfare programmes have been suspended since 2015, that used to support more than 1.5 million vulnerable people with direct cash transfers.
The civil society organisations face increased challenges due to shrinking space and restrictions imposed on their work. Many organisations are prevented from doing their work. Humanitarian aid is not allowed into besieged areas such as Taiz, a city besieged for the last two years. Human Rights Defenders and Social Activists constantly risk being killed or their freedom restricted. The Association of Abductees’ Mothers documented 3,289 cases of arbitrary detention and forced disappearances of civilians including journalists and religious minorities. The Association also documented 818 torture cases, 51 cases are of death as a result of torture.
Gender based violence have increased by 70% and there are 2.6 million women and girls are at risk of violence. Last year, ten thousand cases of violence against women and girls have been reported including rape.
There is a critical need for a transparent and independent investigation to the continued human rights violations and abuses. As such, we urgently call for establishing a Joint International Investigation Commission that is independent to support accountability and facilitate bringing justice to victims and end impunity. We propose the following:
- Establishing an International Investigation Commission that is independent and in partnership with national/local civil society organisation in Yemen. The commission should investigate human rights violations since 2011. The members of the commission should be chosen, and criteria should include independence, impartiality, high competence in human rights. Additionally, women should have a fair representation in the commission.
- The mission of the International Commission should be to help victims have justice. It should be gender responsive, ensuring women accessibility. The terms of reference of the commission should be jointly developed with national/local partners.
- It is important to NOT use the International Commission to achieve political victory exploiting the Yemeni blood.
- It is critical that the International Commission has guarantees for accessing all the areas of the Yemen Republic and a clear mechanism for fact-finding for the violations that happened in the past and that are still ongoing, noting that both Yemen OHCHR office and the National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations of Human Rights faced problems in accessing different areas.
- Making use of the national reports produced by the National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations for Human Rights ensuring to build on that and closing any information gaps.
- It is important that the reports that the International Commission will produce are going to be used as foundation for accountability and prosecution perpetrators of human rights violations in Yemen who are found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and any other crimes in violation of the International Law for Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and Customary International Law.
- Ensuring protection for local monitors and ensuring that there are mechanisms in place for protecting them, in addition to, building their capacity to implement their work in high competency. Ensuring protection also to witnesses and ensuring mechanism are in place for that.
- Ensuring a real partnership with civil society organisations for human rights in Yemen including women led organisations and feminist organisation, in addition, to ensuring a fair representation of all Yemeni NGOs in South and North of Yemen.
- Appoint a Special Rapporteur for monitoring Human Rights in Yemen.
Organisations signed below.
UN Envoy to Yemen
OHCHR Representative to Yemen
Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator to Yemen