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Rights group urges ICC to investigate mercenaries in Yemen

[JURIST] The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) [advocacy website] on Tuesday called [press release] for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recruiting foreign nationals to serve in an army of mercenaries.

AOHR UK sent letters to the governments of Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Colombia and Panama, all countries where recruitment took place, asking that they "withdraw their citizens from these dangerous formations and take measures against the UAE in accordance with the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries of 1989" [text].

AOHR UK alleges that the mercenaries began work outside the borders of the UAE in March 2015 and have conducted military operations in Yemen in addition to supervising secret prisons in which Yemeni citizens have been subjected to torture.

While neither the UAE nor Yemen recognizes the ICC, AOHR UK stressed that the ICC maintains jurisdiction because the crimes committed in Yemen under Emirati leadership are all by citizens who have been recruited from countries that are members of the ICC. "This is in accordance to personal jurisdiction which depends on the nationality of the specific perpetrator as stated in the Rome Convention [text]."

The decision to open an investigation is left to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

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