International report documents crimes committed by al-Houthi militia, Saleh group

The Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV) has issued a report documenting a series of crimes committed by the Houthi militia and Saleh group.

The report is a product of one year of hard work by the YCMHR field monitors who worked in a very difficult and challenging environment, sometimes risking their own lives to document gross violations to international human rights law from 21st September 2014 – 15th August 2015. The report covers the atrocities committed in Sana’a, the capital, Aden, Taiz, Lahej, Hodiedah, Addali’e, Abyan, Dhamar and Shabwa, governorates.

According to this report, the toppling of Yemen’s legitimate government by Houthi militia and Saleh group coup has so far posed a serious threat to the human rights situation in Yemen. Hence, 21st September 2014 represents a substantial downturn in the human rights course in Yemen. Since then, human rights violations have reached an unprecedented peak in Yemen’s history. The Houthis – Saleh’s unconstitutional overthrow of the legitimate government was associated with, and resulted in, many forms of human rights violations that have afflicted men, women, children, property and the environment.

The report monitors and documents many heinous crimes and violations to human rights perpetuated by Houthi-Saleh militia from 21st September 2014 – 15th August 2015. It establishes accurate and unbiased data gathered through scientific monitoring and documenting process and methodology by a group of qualified and trained monitors.

It is important to mention that the report is not inclusive with respect to time and place of violations, simply because of the ongoing war and insecurity that endangers the monitors’ lives and exposes them to serious violations. However, it is believed that what has been monitored and documented is certainly sufficient to reflect and reveal the seriousness and gravity of the human rights situation in Yemen during the specified period and beyond.

The report is organised into a preface and two chapters. The first chapter provides background to the events that include major human rights violations, and the legal framework which explains international legal frameworks that govern human rights in the country. The second chapter illustrates human rights violations, particularly violations of the right to life and protection from arbitrary detention and forcible disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment, denial of freedom of expression and peaceful gathering in addition to many other violations.

The findings show that between September 2014 and August 2015, 3,074 people were murdered, about 20 percent of whom were women and children; 7,347 civilians wounded due to random shelling, at least 25 percent of whom were women and children; a total of 5,894 people were arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared, 4,640 of them were released and 1,254 people remain in captivity.

The report also focusses on arbitrary detention, forcible disappearances and hostage taking violations which are carried out regularly by the rebel militia against politicians, journalists, human rights and political activities. Detainees are frequently mistreated and deprived of basic needs, such as food, water and proper hygiene and sanitation conditions. To add insult to injury, some are used as human shields at military sites that are targeted by the Coalition airstrikes.

This is a clear violation of both national and international legislation. However, the de facto forces, the Houthis, failed to observe their commitment towards human rights and humanitarian law, being the power in control that practices the state’s functions. Rather, the Houthis – Saleh showed total recklessness towards human rights and human suffering.

The report concludes with recommendations, calling on the Houthi-Saleh militia, Yemeni government and the international community to implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It also calls on the international community to support the newly established National Commission to Investigate alleged Human Rights Violations with all needed technical assistance, as well as capacity building.