Rights group urges US to investigate Yemen ex-president Saleh

Rights group urges US to investigate Yemen ex-president Saleh

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[JURIST] The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] sent a letter [text, PDF] to US officials Tuesday urging an investigation into the crackdown against protesters by forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive]. In a deal brokered by Middle Eastern leaders in November, Saleh agreed to give up power in exchange for receiving immunity from prosecution. Saleh has been in the US since January 29 receiving medical treatment, during which the US has given him diplomatic immunity. In a press release [text] on Tuesday, FIDH argued that because Saleh’s forces have committed serious human rights violations, Saleh should not be shielded by immunity:

International law and conventions stipulate that immunity cannot be granted to perpetrators of grave human rights violations such as torture. As a signatory to the Convention Against Torture and War Crimes Statute, and as a key member of the UN Security Council, the United States has an obligation to investigate the serious and credible allegations of torture and other widespread violations brought against Saleh.

The US Department of State (DOS) [official website] did not respond directly to FIDH’s request to investigate Saleh but did issue a statement [text] on Tuesday praising the Yemeni people for electing a new president.

Saleh has been at the center of controversy over the past year. Two weeks ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] declared that the US and Arab states are not bound [JURIST report] by a decision to grant Saleh immunity. In January, Yemeni officials amended a law [JURIST report] that would have granted full immunity to Saleh and his aides to limit his aides’ immunity to politically motivated crimes. In April, Saleh agreed to step down from power [JURIST report] and give control of Yemen’s government to his deputies. Last March, the Yemeni parliament, at Saleh’s request, enacted emergency laws [JURIST report] designed to end anti-government protests. Earlier in March, Saleh attempted to placate protesters by promising to create a new constitution [JURIST report] guaranteeing parliamentary and judicial freedoms.