Middle East/North Africa

UN halts war crimes investigation in Yemen

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The United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Council on Thursday narrowly voted to end its investigation of war crimes in Yemen. 

The Council voted 21-18 against a resolution to continue the probe by the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen for two years. 

In a statement, the experts group called the vote a “major setback for all victims who have suffered serious violations.”

“The negative vote taken yesterday by Council members further underlines the Group’s assessment that there is a lack of political will to address the situation in Yemen,” the group said. 

Because of the vote, the group’s mandate will end when the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council closes next Monday.

The vote was the first time that a resolution has been defeated in the history of the council, Reuters reported

The U.S. did not have a vote on the resolution because it is currently engaging with the council as an observer

Yemen’s civil war began in 2015 between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels. Since the conflict escalated, over 8,218 civilians have been killed, including 2,270 children, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelete told the council on Thursday, according to a summary of the day’s session.

The UN Refugee Agency says that over four million Yemenis have been displaced since the beginning of the crisis.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that failing to renew the mandate would be “a stain on the credibility of the Council and a slap in the face to victims.”

“Rather than allowing any party to the conflict to evade scrutiny for its own violations, HRC member states should stand with the people of Yemen by renewing the GEE’s mandate at this critical time,” the group said. 

Heba Morayef, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said in a statement that the vote was “an abandonment of the people of Yemen who are today suffering under one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.”

“Countries that voted against or abstained should be ashamed for having abandoned the Yemeni people in their time of need,” Morayef said.


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