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HRW: Yemen failed to probe anti-government protester deaths

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday said Yemen authorities failed to investigate top officials [press release] in the shooting deaths of 45 anti-government demonstrators killed in the country's "Friday of Dignity Massacre" in March 2011. The report [text, PDF], entitled "Unpunished Massacre: Yemen's Failed Response to the 'Friday of Dignity' Killings," details the shortcomings of the probe and concludes that an investigation conducted by the Yemen government under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] was "fraught with political interference and ignored evidence implicating government officials." Many officials who purportedly played a role in the massacre where at least 200 additional protesters were injured have not been charged or prosecuted. HRW called on the transition government to reopen the criminal investigation of the implicated perpetrators and ensure that the probe is credible, impartial and meets international standards.

Yemen has received criticism from the international community and human rights groups for its flawed investigations of deaths that occurred during the nations yearlong pro-democracy protests. In June 2011 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced plans [JURIST report] to send a panel to investigate the human rights situation in Yemen [OHCHR backgrounder]. Amid fervent protests in April 2011, Saleh agreed to step down from power [JURIST report], ending his 32-year reign as the nation's leader, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Earlier that month, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report urging the international community [JURIST report] to pressure Yemeni authorities to investigate the deaths of protesters. The protests in Yemen have been analyzed in two recent JURIST op-eds: Constitutional Enforcement in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt by L Ali Khan, Professor of Law at Washburn University, and The Middle East protest movements: each with a story, all with uncertainty by Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies [advocacy website].

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