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UN experts accuse Saudi-led coalition of violating law in Yemen attack

[JURIST] UN experts investigating the October 8 attack on a packed funeral hall in the Yemeni capital, which is currently under rebel control, accused [AP report] the Saudi coalition Thursday of violating international humanitarian law. According to the experts' report, "the attack resulted in disproportionately higher numbers of civilian casualties, when compared to military casualties, and that this could have been anticipated prior to the attack." International law requires a party to assess the "proportionality" of an attack before carrying it out. The experts' report shows no knowledge of any such assessment taking place. Particularly, the expert panel said the second bombing was clear indication that the US-backed Saudi coalition violated its international obligations. Despite the experts' findings, the Saudi coalition has said that they had received incorrect information as to who would be attending the funeral. The attack took place during a funeral held by the Shiite Houthi rebels for the father of the acting interior minister; the first bomb hit during the funeral and the second bomb hit several minutes later while medical personnel responded to the first. It has been estimated that 114 individuals, including women and children, were killed and 613 injured. The experts called on the UN to sanction the use of this "double-tape" bombing technique, and also called upon Saudi Arabia to provide the panel with further data.

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has sparked significant international concern. Last month independent UN human rights expert Alfred de Zayas said [JURIST report] that "[a]rms deals are a major threat to security, peace and human rights." Also last month international human rights groups issued a joint letter [JURIST report] to the permanent representatives of member and observer states of the UN Human Rights Council urging them "to support the High Commissioner's call [JURIST report] for an international, independent investigation into civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen." In July Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Saudi Arabia and other coalition members to create an independent international inquiry into their attacks on civilian economic structures in Yemen. In March two human rights groups called [JURIST report] for the US, the UK and France to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia due to accusations and evidence that the weapons are being used in attacks against Yemen.

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