"No exceptional circumstance whatsoever can be invoked as a justification for torture" UN Committee against tortures says

Press release

On 17 and 18 November, 2003, the UN Committee against Torture examined the initial report of Yemen on the implementation of the Convention against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, submitted to the Committee almost ten years later than requested by the State’s conventional obligations.

The FIDH welcomes and shares the Final Conclusions and Recommendations released today by the Committee, which highlighted a situation where the Government is not complying with its international obligations, neither from a legislative, nor from a practical point of views. The FIDH shares the Committee subjects of concerns and in particular the followings:

1In the framework of its "counter terrorism measures" the Government is currently detaining between 130 to 200 persons in an "investigative" or "re-educative" aim. These detainees, who are under the supervision of the Political Security Department, are frequently deprived of their most fundamental rights, as the right to have access to a lawyer. As recalled by the Committee, the FIDH underlines that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked as a justification for torture".

2In Yemen, the stoning, flogging and amputation, are legal. While the governmental delegation justified these methods as being pursuant to Sharia law, the Committee affirmed that these criminal sanctions "may be in breach of the Convention". The FIDH deplores a lost opportunity for the Government to open a real dialogue on this issue and denounces in absolute terms these inhuman practices, which can not be justified under the umbrella of the "cultural relativism".

3In violation of its international obligations, the Government practices arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions. The FIDH is particularly concerned by the illegal practice consisting in taking into hostage the family members of the wanted. The organization also shares the concern of the Committee as far as the frequent practice of incommunicado detention is concerned. As stated by the Human Rights Committee in its General Comment 20 (1994), provisions should be made against incommunicado detentions, since, as observed by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, "torture is most frequently practiced during incommunicado detentions".

4The FIDH is also concerned about the existence of "private" prisons which are under the "jurisdiction" of the sheikhs (chiefs of tribe). The Organization regrets that the Committee did not mention this issue in its Final Observations.

5Though the Government affirmed that "impunity does not exist in Yemen", different sources certify that there is no serious commitment to bring the authors of torture to justice, nor to ensure the right of the victims to compensation.

The FIDH urges the Yemeni government to take all necessary measures to implement the recommandations of the Committee.

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