The United States must fulfill its duty to bring former Yemeni leader Saleh to justice

Press release

As limited elections take place today in Yemen, cries for justice and genuine democracy continue from people in the street. The calls for justice are mainly focused on Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s President for the past 33 years, who has been allowed to travel to the United States despite being accused of serious human rights violations against his people.

The FIDH, and its partners in Yemen – Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC) and National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedom (HOOD) — call on the U.S. government to uphold its international responsibilities and open an investigation into torture against Saleh.

Saleh has been in the United States since January 28th 2012, reportedly staying at the Ritz Carlton in New York. Despite a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an investigation into the brutal and repressive tactics used against peaceful protesters by Yemeni Security forces under Saleh’s control, the United States has failed to comply with its legal responsibilities to uphold this resolution and has allowed Saleh to remain in the United States without legal consequence while demonstrations calling for justice continue on a daily basis in Yemen.

Numerous reports by Yemeni and international organizations, including the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, have documented the brutal human rights violations committed by the Yemeni armed forces while under Saleh’s command. Prior to entering the United States the Yemeni Parliament granted Mr. Saleh and his aides amnesty from prosecution within Yemen for these violations.

However, 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. In addition, the Yemeni government is currently working on a draft law that would essentially prevent any investigation into human right violations from taking place in Yemen, closing the door to justice and genuine democratic transition.

With this is mind, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) – a member organization of FIDH – has submitted a public letter to the United States Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section, elucidating why there is no immunity for Saleh from criminal prosecution for torture, and requesting the department to open a formal investigation. FIDH and its Yemeni partners fully support CCR’s request, and call on the U.S. government to comply immediately with this obligation.

To read the letter from CCR in full, click this PDF link.

FIDH Report : Yemen: Impunity Sanctioned, Transition Threatened

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