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Yemen cabinet approves immunity for Saleh

Yemen's newly appointed Council of Ministers on Sunday approved a draft law [text, in Arabic] that would grant President Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] immunity from any charges against him for alleged human rights violations from his time in office. The law also grants immunity to anyone who worked for Saleh's civil, military or security agencies during his 32-year reign as president. Some of the law's purposes are to "contribute to all the children of the Yemeni people in the process of construction and development" and "contain[] ... the effects caused by the internal crisis that occurred last period." Now that it has been passed by the council, the bill will be sent to Yemen's parliament for final approval.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the Yemeni government Friday not to pass the proposed legislation [JURIST report] because it would be unjust to the victims of human rights violations. Pillay had requested an investigation [JURIST report] of Saleh and his administration in early December for alleged human rights violations in violence against protesters. The UN Security also urged the Yemeni government [JURIST report] to stop violence against protesters in September, weeks after it had issued a press release declaring a humanitarian crisis [text] in the country. Saleh agreed to step down [JURIST report] from his office in April amidst pressure from nationwide protests.

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