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Nobel peace laureate urges ICC investigation into former Yemen regime

Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman [BBC profile; Nobel profile] on Monday uged the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to conduct an investigation into the violent crackdown on dissent and alleged human rights violations by the country's former president, Ali Abdullah Sakeh [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive]. Although Karman presented [AP report] ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo with a file on crimes she believes were committed by Saleh's regime, the Nobel laureate was also quick to acknowledge that her plea will likely fail due to the fact that Yemen has not signed the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute [text, PDF], and is therefore not a member of the ICC. Consequently, the only way the prosecutor can begin such an investigation is if the UN Security Council [official website] instructs him to do so. While the Security Council has yet to make such an order, it has issued a statement on Yemen [press release] reiterating that "all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable." Saleh stepped down as Yemen's president last week in a deal that would grant immunity to the country's former leader, prompting Karman to add that stronger mechanisms are needed to account for leaders who turn on their own people to remain in power.

Karman, a Yemeni journalist and activist, won her Nobel Peace Prize [JURIST report] for aiding the protest movement in Yemen that forced Saleh from the presidency. While Karman will have to wait for further action by the UN, the Security Council in September called on Yemen to comply with international law [JURIST report] and end ongoing violence against protesters that resulted in the deaths of at least 49 people [Al Jazeera report] shortly following Saleh's return as president after a three-month absence. Also in September, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] urged an intervention [JURIST report] in Yemen after verifying that the Yemeni government was indeed firing on peaceful protesters. Saleh clung to the presidency throughout nearly 10 months of protests and violence despite agreeing to step down [JURIST report] in April, shortly following his attempt to remove presidential term limits and expand his political authority.

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